Using social media as a medical professional

Annex Extracts from Good medical practice

Domain 4 Trust and professionalism

Introduction

Patients must be able to trust medical professionals with their lives and health, and medical professionals must be able to trust each other. 

Good medical professionals uphold high personal and professional standards of conduct. They are honest and trustworthy, act with integrity, maintain professional boundaries and do not let their personal interests affect their professional judgements or actions.

Acting with honesty and integrity

81

You must make sure that your conduct justifies patients’ trust in you and the public’s trust in your profession.

82

You must always be honest about your experience, qualifications, and current role.

Communicating as a medical professional

All professional communication

88

You must be honest and trustworthy, and maintain patient confidentiality in all your professional written, verbal and digital communications. 

89

You must make sure any information you communicate as a medical professional is accurate, not false or misleading. This means:

  1. you must take reasonable steps to check the information is accurate 
  2. you must not deliberately leave out relevant information
  3. you must not minimise or trivialise risks of harm
  4. you must not present opinion as established fact. 

Public professional communication, including using social media, advertising, promotion, and endorsement

90

When communicating publicly as a medical professional – including using social media, advertising your services, and promoting or endorsing any services or products:

  1. you must follow the guidance in paragraph 88 and 89 
  2. you must declare any conflicts of interest
  3. you must not exploit people’s vulnerability or lack of medical knowledge
  4. you must make sure what you communicate is in line with your duty to promote and protect the health of patients and the public.
91

You must follow our more detailed guidance on Using social media as a medical professional.

Private communication

93

When communicating privately, including using instant messaging services, you should bear in mind that messages or other communications in private groups may become public.

Responding to safety risks

75. You must act promptly if you think that patient safety or dignity is, or may be, seriously compromised. 

c. If you have concerns that a colleague may not be fit to practise and may be putting patients at risk, you must ask for advice from a colleague, your defence body, or us. If you are still concerned, you must report this, in line with your workplace policy and our more detailed guidance on Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety.