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Research Letter
March 21, 2012

Physician Violations of Online Professionalism and Disciplinary Actions: A National Survey of State Medical Boards

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Hospital Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (Dr Greysen) (ryan.greysen@ucsf.edu); Medical Service, Washington DC VA Medical Center, Washington, DC (Dr Chretien); Department of Medical Education, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC (Dr Kind); Federation of State Medical Boards, Washington, DC (Dr Young); and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut (Dr Gross).

JAMA. 2012;307(11):1141-1142. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.330

To the Editor: The use of social media by physicians to post unprofessional content online has been well documented.1,2 While concerns about online professionalism have prompted the creation of guidelines for social media use from professional societies such as the American Medical Association,3 there is no information about oversight by licensing authorities for physician uses of the Internet or disciplinary consequences for violations of online professionalism.

We surveyed the 68 executive directors of all medical and osteopathic boards in the United States and its territories about violations of online professionalism reported to them and subsequent actions taken. The survey was developed with input from key informants from a representative sample of 10 state boards to determine online actions by physicians most likely to directly affect patients. This study was conducted in partnership with the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and was approved by the institutional review board at Yale University School of Medicine.