Doctors warned over using Facebook

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Doctors should not accept Facebook requests from patients, the British Medical Association (BMA) says.

The dangers of breaching confidentiality, damaging their professionalism and risking the doctor-patient relationship are too great, BMA says.

Many doctors and medical students use social media – including Facebook, Twitter and blogs – with no problems. But in new guidance the BMA recommends they adopt conservative privacy settings and declare any conflicts of interest when they post online.

Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the BMA's Medical Ethics Committee, said: "Medical professionals should be wary of who could access their personal material online, how widely it could be shared and how it could be perceived by their patients and colleagues. Accepting Facebook friends presents doctors with difficult ethical issues."

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