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GPs told to just say 'no' to friend requests

A medical defence union is warning GPs of the ‘serious ethical challenges’ social media poses for the doctor-patient relationship, after a spike in enquiries.

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) has seen 74% increase in calls from doctors asking about social media this year, compared with 2013.

This comes after a study published last month in the Lancet found one in seven doctors had accepted Facebook friend requests from patients.

MDDUS medical adviser Dr Naeem Nazem said: ‘The rise of social media has created some serious ethical challenges for doctors and their relationship with patients.

‘We have handled a number of cases where doctors have sought advice from us regarding social media issues, including patients posting critical or abusive comments.’

Dr Nazem added: ‘Accepting a Facebook friend request from a patient or commenting on a post risks blurring the boundaries between a professional and personal relationship.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • No s**t Sherlock...

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  • This is nonsense. Boundaries have always been blurred for doctors that live and work in a community. Doctors often take on roles outside of medicine such as Scout groups, Parent Teacher Association, sports clubs and so on. If you live somewhere some of your patients may be personal friends. There is nothing wrong with this so long as people are careful and considerate when posting on-line, the same principles which apply to everybody else. Consulting of course should remain in clinical settings and it's probably best not to become to personally involved in the lives of strangers, but this has always been the case for all sorts of professionals.

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  • As long as you as a doctor has the very best interest of the patient, because it is so difficult to always say no, no matter what the GMC says. They don't live in the real world

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