The British Medical Association has issued new guidance to doctors and nurses on the use of social networking sites.
The BMA advised medics not to blur the boundaries by accepting patients, past or present, as friends on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Careless use of such websites could put medics' privacy at risk, damage their professionalism and affect the doctor–patient relationship, it said.
It could also raise ethical issues if, for example, a doctor became party to information about their patients that they had not disclosed during clinical consultations.
The group advised medical staff to politely decline any invites of friendship from past and current patients and explain the reasons why it would be inappropriate to accept.
Copyright © Press Association 2011
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