Academics & Social Media

Anita K Patel, MD

1)    Patient Privacy

Patient privacy will always be the ultimate guiding force for any healthcare worker, regardless of whether they work in the private or academic sectors. No patient health information or identifying information should ever be shared on social media without their express written consent for release of information in the social media space. Patient information is not solely defined as name, birthdate, or age – but any information related  directly to the patients care, including, but not limited to their specific hospital course, radiologic or laboratory results.

2)    Electronic Communications

No exchange between patient’s practioners should be held in the social media space. Either relating to a specific patient care or in any capacity. This information can not only violate patient confidentiality, but can also be a liability to any practicing health care workers.

3)    Standards of Behavior

Health care practioners should conduct themselves in the social media space as they would conduct themselves in front of patients. Any inappropriate comments or communication exchanges can be leveraged against the healthcare practioner in their current and any future jobs they hold. Health care workers should treat others members of the social media space with respect. Furthermore, any disingenuous, or “fake” followers or engagement is considered a breach of accepted standards of behavior in the social media space. Use of social media should in no way interfere with one’s work. Refrain from actively engaging on social media during patient care unless it is pertaining to one’s work.

4)    Use of Hospital/University Name

Do not associate your personal social media profile with the hospital or university that one is affiliated with without express permission from the employee or students institution. Furthermore, a disclaimer stating that the ideas and education posted on one’s personal account are the sole product of the individual is sometimes required by certain institutions. It is the responsibility of the individual to research their institutions social media policy prior to making a social media profile. Refrain from listing your hospital/university email on your private social media page without express permission from your institution.

5)    Dissemination of Education and Research

One should not disseminate any falsified research studies in the social media space. It is our recommendation to first publish one’s work in a peer reviewed journal prior to dissemination of research on social media. This ensures rigorous peer review and it also protects the intellectual property of the individual. Any educational content displayed on one’s private social media should be evidence-based, and appropriate research citations should be provided when original work is cited. If the information is not embedded in published or accepted evidence based medicine, one should add this disclaimer. Furthermore, we strongly encourage no provision of medical recommendations or treatment over social media- for both patient and provider protection against harm and liability.