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Beware of social media: things to be avoided by doctors

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10 common social media pitfalls to be avoided by doctors as per Jan. 7 article by Medscape.

  1. Social media can become viral: Social media can magnify one comment. One of my 50 seconds video crossed 6.7 million in no time. It works on the principle pf 100th monkey phenomenon. 
  2. Never violate patient privacy by posting diagnosing patients with colleagues, posting cases on a practice website and uploading photos with a patients face or information in the background. Patients can also be identified by unusual accidents or rare conditions. Written consent is required if patients are identified for marketing or other purposes.
  3. Dont add patients on personal pages. Set up a private page for family and friends, along with a professional page for the public.
  4. Never respond to patient-specific questions. If the patient thinks advice led to injury, they may sue for malpractice. Have patients come in for an office consult.
  5. Dont post potentially objectionable content, such as profanity, drunkenness, unprofessional behaviour at work or sexually suggestive posts. Set privacy settings to only allow sharing with a small number of people.
  6. Never post unprofessional statements: Comments about race or gender are especially inflammatory and can lead to firings. 
  7. Never violate employers social media restrictions. 
  8. Always reveal conflicts of interest. 
  9. Never create negative impressions by posting outdated practice profiles, self-absorption and inconsistencies in profiles across social media.
  10. Never post too much. Two to three posts a week is enough.


Dr KK Aggarwal

President CMAAO, HCFI and Past National President IMA

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