GP News: “More patients making ‘amorous advances’ to GPs online”

“In order to avoid future contacts from patients, GPs may have to change mobile numbers or email addresses and activate privacy settings on social networks, the MDU said… …MDU tips on dealing with amorous patients:

> Inform the patient politely but firmly that it is impossible for anything other than a purely professional relationship to exist between you and that their actions have overstepped the acceptable boundaries of the doctor/patient relationship.
> Consider transferring the patient’s care to a colleague.
> Keep a log of all calls and contacts.
> Exercise caution before accepting gifts, as acceptance can be misconstrued.
> Use privacy settings on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter
> Consider withholding your mobile number if you use it to contact patients.
> Don’t reply to Facebook messages from patients.
> Contact the MDU for advice as soon as you become aware of any potential difficulties with a patient

I wonder why there’s no mention of the preventative opportunities that Doctors have to avoid the majority of inappropriate online communication in the first instance? For example:

> Making the boundaries you have very clear in your online profile(s) so patients are in no doubt about what you are/aren’t okay with doing online eg. don’t just presume patients know you have a policy of ignoring their Facebook messages.

> Providing patients with professional, structured, accessible, secure, documented and clinically validated ways to communicate online with you so they don’t have to resort to social networks to be able to reach you (remember it is 2012!).

An example of the most effective way I’ve ever seen (and which is the tech we’ve adapted as part of the 3G Doctor service to help patients and Doctors prepare for and create value from their video consultation) is explained in the following video by Dr John Bachman MD, Prof of Primary Care at the Mayo Clinic):

About David Doherty
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