Four times as many doctors have requested guidance on the use of social media sites between 2010 and 2012, a medical defence organisation has revealed.
UK-wide Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS), believes numbers of calls could continue to rise this year.
Guidance from the General Medical Council (GMA) recommends that doctors should not mix professional and social relationships.
The guidance states: “Social media can blur the boundaries between a doctor’s personal and professional life and may change the nature of the relationship between a doctor and a patient.”
Around 24 million people in the UK have Facebook accounts, and 15 million have Twitter accounts.
MDDUS medical adviser Dr Naeem Nazem said: “Doctors must keep their relationship with patients professional, or they risk becoming too close which can cloud their judgement and affect their objectivity and clinical decision-making.
“Patients should feel comfortable in sharing their personal information and their health with their doctors – but not their Facebook status.”