The American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards released a new position paper available for free through the Annals of Internal Medicine.
There are five key position statements — but please review the full paper as there is a rich discussion about each of these position statements.
Position 1: Use of online media can bring significant educational benefits to patients and physicians, but may also pose ethical challenges. Maintaining trust in the profession and in patient–physician relationships requires that physicians consistently apply ethical principles for preserving the relationship, confidentiality, privacy, and respect for persons to online settings and communications.
Position 2: The boundaries between professional and social spheres can blur online. Physicians should keep the two spheres separate and comport themselves professionally in both.
Position 3: Email or other electronic communications should only be used by physicians in an established patient–physician relationship and with patient consent. Documentation about patient care communications should be included in the patient’s medical record.
Position 4: Physicians should consider periodically “self-auditing” to assess the accuracy of information available about them on physician-ranking websites and other sources online.
Position 5: The reach of the Internet and online communications is far and often permanent. Physicians, trainees, and medical students should be aware that online postings may have future implications for their professional lives.
What are you thoughts on these position statements? Will you change your current online activity as a result?