AMA Policy on Social Media

New AMA Policy Helps Guide Physicians’ Use of Social Media

For immediate release:
Nov. 8, 2010

SAN DIEGO – Millions of Americans use social networks and blogs to communicate, but when those users are physicians, challenges to the patient-physician relationship can arise. New policy adopted today by the American Medical Association (AMA) aims at  helping physicians to maintain a positive online presence and preserve the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.

It’s not surprising there is some guidance on social media from the AMA.  I suppose the only surprise is that it took this long.

Follow the link above to read the policy, which I find remarkably reasonable.  I have some litle heartburn about this one:

(e) When physicians see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional they have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual, so that he or she can remove it and/or take other appropriate actions. If the behavior significantly violates professional norms and the individual does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation, the physician should report the matter to appropriate authorities.

Plenty of thoughtful people disagree with things I’ve written (and a few unthoughtful folks disagree with everything), but I’m not a fan of giving AMA blessing to harass. 

Yes, there’s some things written out there I’m not a big fan of.  I take it as a sign of strength that we can disagree but not make a federal case of it.

And, for you aspiring to get into a professional school, f) is not just for practicing physicians:

(f) Physicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for their medical careers (particularly for physicians-in-training and medical students), and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.

You’d have to go a long way to damage the medical profession, but it takes one facebook post to damage yours.  “Dude, I was so wasted when I…” doesn’t instill confidence in you or your judgement.  Just putting that out there.

So, rare kudos from me for the ever-shrinking AMA.