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State boards issue guidelines for social media use

Article

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) has some advice for you before you tweet or post on Facebook and other social networking Web sites.

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) has some advice for you before you tweet or post on Facebook and other social networking Web sites.

FSMB has released a set of guidelines designed to protect physicians and patients online. Among the recommendations: don't use digital media to develop personal or sexual relationships with patients; don't misrepresent professional credentials; don't refer to patients in a way that might identify them; protect data; keep online information up-to-date and accurate; and disclose any information, such as financial, professional, or personal conflicts of interest that could affect patients' understanding or use of any information, products, or services you or your practice offer online.

While noting the potential of social media, Humayun Chaudry, MD, president and chief executive officer of FSMB, adds, "Physicians need to...maintain the same professional and ethical standards in their online activity as they do in the rest of their practice. Failing to do so can hurt patients and physicians' careers."

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health