Risks to Health Care Professionals
What if a Patient requests you to “Friend” you?
As a UMHS employee, you are required to maintain a professional relationship with Patients/Families and research subjects.
“Friending” a patient, family member and/or research subject is strongly discouraged – this is especially true in the case of minor patients. Exception is made in cases where you already have an established friendship before he becomes a patient.
Information sharing by health care professionals through social networking may lead to or impact the course of malpractice litigation. Some examples of the risks are:
Record of electronic communications may support existence of a physician-patient relationship and create exposure to claims of medical malpractice or patient abandonment
Potential licensure implications if a physician “practices medicine” via online communications with patients in other states
Enabling communications may support patients’ expectations that the health care professional is constantly monitoring their health information online.
Failure to check website (e.g. a patient’s blog or Facebook page) regarding a patient’s medical history and medication allergies could give rise to a medical malpractice claim
Other risks besides litigation exist.
- What can you do if a patient posts something negative about you?
- What if a patient posts something erroneous?
- What will you do in these situations?
You should be aware of these risks before proceeding with any interaction with patients via social media sites.
If you are or your department is contemplating an online social media interaction with patients, you must work with Public Relations & Marketing Communications. Fill out the online request form to begin this process.