Standards associated with social media usage rather than face-to-face or through other traditional media remain the same.
The guidance Doctors' use of social media says doctors must follow existing guidance Maintaining a professional boundary between you and your patient in all interactions with patients.
Further highlights of the guidance are below:
- Doctors have a responsibility to explain to a patient why it is not appropriate to mix social and professional relationships and when contacted through a personal profile. A doctor should then, where appropriate, direct a patient to their professional profile.
- Doctors must not use social media to discuss individual patients or their care.
- Confidentality is central to trust between doctors and patients. Doctors must follow the guidance in Consentand Confidentialitywhen using social media.
- When posting material online, doctors should be open about any conflict of interest and declare any financial or commercial interests in healthcare organisations or pharmaceutical and biomedical companies. They must follow the guidance in Financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest.
"Online communication has become a key part of every doctor's personal and professional life, and the use of social media is now very common," said Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC.
"These newer forms of communication can be incredibly useful but it is important that the standards of behaviour and respect for others which are expected from doctors in the 'real' world are also observed online."
The GMC’s core document Good Medical Practice will also be undergoing an extensive review in 2012.
To take part in the GMC's consultation, which runs until 13 June 2012, visit: www.gmc-uk.org/gmp2012.