The British Medical Association writes:
Given the greater accessibility of personal information, entering into informal relationships with patients on sites like Facebook can increase the likelihood of inappropriate boundary transgressions, particularly where previously there existed only a professional relationship between a doctor and patient. Difficult ethical issues can arise if, for example, doctors become party to information about their patients that is not disclosed as part of a clinical consultation. The BMA recommends that doctors and medical students who receive friend requests from current or former patients should politely refuse and explain to the patient the reasons why it would be inappropriate for them to accept the request.
The group’s new social media guidance notes that “because of the power imbalance that can exist in any doctor-patient relationship,” it’s important to establish a professional boundary. It’s difficult to determine where personal and professional boundaries lie when Facebook’s streaming Friend updates are flooding into your computer daily offering intimate personal information a clinical professional sees about his or her patient.
The American Medical Association writes:
If doctors interact with patients online, they should “maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethical guidelines just as they would in any other context. And physicians should consider separating personal and professional content online.”
Use your good judgement and remain the consumate professional when exploring the possibilities of social media.