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    The ethics of social media


    Guidelines for Posting Content on Social Media

    Cosmetic specialty societies might already have general guidelines in place about how member physicians should handle marketing and promotions involving patients. That’s a good place for many to cosmetic medicine physicians go, first, for guidance when posting social media content. The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery offers members social media guidelines, and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ (ASPS’) code of ethics addresses how plastic surgeons should treat patients with respect with their words and images.

    “The ethics committee of the ASPS has said they will use this paper as guidance for how to enforce those guidelines,” Dr. Schierle says:

    ·       Clearly ask patients how they feel about having their procedures videotaped and broadcasted on social media channels, and, if they approve, get it in writing. Be specific about what you’ll do with the videos, and, when you edit the videos, make sure patient identifiers are censored. If patients agree to show their faces, get a special consent for that. Patients younger than 18 are considered minors and need parental consent. Allow patients to withdraw consent at any time and consider hiring a legal professional to draft the consent document.

    ·       Be clear that patients can refuse consent without affecting the care they receive.

    ·       Inform patients that images, including videos, might be saved, shared, changed. And even if the physician deletes them on the practice’s website or social media, copies might live forever online.

    Dr. Kluska·       Uphold standards of professionalism as advocated by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Code of Ethics. (Physicians from other specialties might refer to their codes of ethics.)

    ·       And concentrate on the procedure at hand — not on videotaping. Providers should consider hiring a professional videographer and training staff and others about maintaining professionalism and integrity.

    The dynamic and rapidly changing social media environment will continue to challenge the medical community and its societies, according to Dr. Kluska.

    “In medicine, the physician needs to not only adapt and overcome these obstacles that challenge our societies and their respective leaders but, the physician must also compete with these temptations by standing his or her ground based on [ethics], tradition and common sense,” Dr. Kluska says.

    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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