Physicians should only have online interaction with patients when discussing the patient’s medical treatment within the physician-patient relationship – and these interactions should never occur on personal social networking or social media websites.
Patient privacy and confidentiality must be protected at all times, especially on social media and social networking websites. Although physicians may discuss their experiences in non-clinical settings, they should never provide any information that could be used to identify patients.
Physicians should be aware that any information they post on a social networking site may be disseminated to a larger audience, and that what they say may be taken out of context or remain publicly available online in perpetuity.
One study in JAMA found that 92% of state medical boards in the United States have received reports of violations of online professionalism, so this guidance is really a bit overdue. But, I'm glad both the boards and licensed physicians now have some clearly defined expectations and guidelines for moving forward.
For all of my nursing followers, similar guidance is also available in a previous post .