Each fall, first-year medical students are introduced to the basics of confidentiality. The question is posed: “How many of you would friend a patient?” Watching from the back of the auditorium, I have yet to see a single hand flutter, much less shoot confidently into the air.
I am waiting, I think, for the moment when the culture shifts before my eyes. Like my students, I feel a crawling discomfort at the thought of invading cyberspace to contact a patient online. I came of age with the internet: that is, old enough to have attended college Facebook-free but young enough to have been regularly chastised about the professional perils of social media. Unlike my students, however, I no longer hear it as a polar question. I accepted a friend request from a patient’s parents, and it forever changed my understanding of the practice of medicine.
Caruso Brown AE. Porous Boundaries. JAMA. 2017;317(24):2487-2488. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.1589