Physicians should pause before hitting Send on an e-mail, tweet, or other digital communication to ensure that the communication will uphold their professional obligations to patients and not mar the reputation of the profession, urges a new joint position paper (http: //annals.org/article.aspx?articleid =1675927) from the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).
Questionable physician behavior online is not uncommon, suggested a 2012 study that found 92% of state medical boards had received reports of online violations of medical professionalism (Greysen SR et al. JAMA. 2013;307:1141-1142). The most commonly reported violations were inappropriatecommunications with patients (such as sexual misconduct), prescribing of medications outside the patient-physician relationship or other inappropriate medical practices, and misrepresentation of the physician's credentials.
Kuehn BM. ACP, State Medical Boards Offer Advice on Online Professionalism for Physicians. JAMA. 2013;309(19):1981-1982. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.4897