Guidelines for doctor patient dating

(b) When using the Internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content is likely there permanently.Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.In the poorest communities, it may not be possible to meet the needs of the indigent for physicians’ services by relying solely on local physicians.The local physicians should be able to turn for assistance to their colleagues in prosperous communities, particularly those in close proximity.(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.Issued June 2011 based on the report “Professionalism in the Use of Social Media,” adopted November 2010.

Sexual or romantic interactions between physicians and patients detract from the goals of the physician-patient relationship, may exploit the vulnerability of the patient, may obscure the physician’s objective judgment concerning the patient’s health care, and ultimately may be detrimental to the patient’s well-being.

The Internet has created the ability for medical students and physicians to communicate and share information quickly and to reach millions of people easily.

Participating in social networking and other similar Internet opportunities can support physicians’ personal expression, enable individual physicians to have a professional presence online, foster collegiality and camaraderie within the profession, provide opportunity to widely disseminate public health messages and other health communication.

The following factors should be considered when considering whether a relationship is appropriate: the nature of the patient’s medical problem, the length of the professional relationship, the degree of the third party’s emotional dependence on the physician, and the importance of the clinical encounter to the third party and the patient.

Issued December 1998 based on the report “Sexual or Romantic Relations between Physicians and Key Third Parties,” adopted June 1998.

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