Some Docs May Use Twitter for 'Unprofessional' Messages:
THURSDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Some doctors post
unethical and unprofessional content on Twitter, a finding that
suggests the need for more oversight of physicians' use of social
media, according to a recent study.
Of 5,156 "tweets" sent by 260 U.S. physicians, each with 500 or
more followers, last May, researchers found that 3 percent were
This means the tweets included profanity, potential patient
privacy violations, sexually explicit material, and/or
discriminatory statements, said the team at the George Washington
University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
They also categorized 1 percent of the doctors' tweets as "other
unprofessional," meaning the messages included unsupported claims
about a product for sale on the doctor's Web site or repeated
promotions of specific health products. Ten of these tweets about
medical therapies contradicted existing medical knowledge or
guidelines, potentially putting patients at risk, the researchers
"This research helped us to identify how physicians are using social media and has helped us gauge whether or not there is a need for greater accountability for physicians who use social media," study author Dr. Katherine Chretien, an associate professor of medicine, said in a university news release.
"While the majority of tweets were potentially helpful, the ethical breaches and unprofessional content raised a red flag," she added.
The findings were published in a letter in the Feb. 9 issue of
Journal of the American Medical Association.
Here's where you can learn more about the American Medical
code of medical ethics.
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