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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.’