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    The ethics of social media

     

    Do No Harm

    Doing harm is another concern.

    “It’s when you physically stop the operation and step away from the table to do a dance, or sing a song, or perform inappropriate activities with body parts, making inappropriate jokes. Those cross the line into something that is potentially degrading the level of care. And you’re delaying the progress of the case and increasing the length of time that patients are under general anesthesia,” Dr. Schierle says.

    Videos—the good kind

    Dr. Schierle says he and his coauthors are all for entertaining, engaging content.

    “We understand that’s how you have to communicate to get likes and shares,” Dr. Schierle says. “But the physician-patient relationship is something special and deserves respect and decorum. And when a patient is under general anesthesia undergoing a procedure, your first and foremost responsibility should be the care of that patient.”

    That’s not to mention that the physician is in a position of power when the patient having surgery is potentially unable to object at all because of general anesthesia or vulnerable because of the circumstances, he says.

    Dr. TaleiBeverly Hills facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Ben Talei, M.D., often posts clinical photos and videos. Among his postings: videos of surgical and nonsurgical procedures, as well as before and after photos. He says the posts give people watching a realistic view of what to expect.

    But before posting, Dr. Talei says he takes a few things into consideration.

    “The practical issue is whether or not graphic images would offend or traumatize unsuspecting followers or possibly deter them from doing a procedure because of the imagery involved,” Dr. Talei says. “Ethically, I always ensure the patient has given complete permission to publicize them and the procedure on social media whether or not their identity is revealed. Posting photos of patients without their consent is … unforgivable, even if the patient’s face is not shown.”

    Dr. Kluska’s advice to physicians considering social media and other marketing: “Do to the patient what you as a physician would be comfortable having done to you or your immediate family.”

    NEXT: Guidelines for Posting Videos on Social Media

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has written about health care, the science and business of medicine, fitness and wellness ...

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