The British Medical Association has issued new guidance to doctors and nurses on the use of social networking sites.
The BMA advised medics not to blur the boundaries by accepting patients, past or present, as friends on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Careless use of such websites could put medics’ privacy at risk , damage their professionalism and affect the doctor-patient relationship, it said.
It could also raise ethical issues if, for example, a doctor became party to information about their patients that they had not disclosed during clinical consultations.
The group advised medical staff to politely decline any invites of friendship from past and current patients and explain the reasons why it would be inappropriate to accept.
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Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
“It can be difficult I live in a small town and most of my friends are patients” – Julie, Cheshire
“No, it is not acceptable. We have been through this with a patient who repeatedly targeted one of our drs. It got to the point that the dr was forced to take their profile off the site and the patient had to be warned that if they continued to try to make contact outside of professional arena they would have to be removed. It worked but was very uncomfortable experience” – Name and address withheld