No need to report online material
AUSTRALIAN doctors who post “unprofessional” material on social networking websites are unlikely to face the scrutiny their US colleagues will, following moves by the American Medical Association to impose mandatory reporting rules on its members.
The US approach risks encouraging doctors to report too many low-level incidents and stifles their willingness to share information online, Australian doctors say.
The AMA (US) policy advises doctors who find “unprofessional” content posted by a colleague that “significantly violates professional norms” to “report the matter to appropriate authorities” if the author does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation.
But Dr Michael Bonning, chair of the Australian Medical Association’s Council of Doctors-In-Training and lead author of its social media guide, warned such a move would undermine doctors’ freedom of speech while lowering the threshold for reporting perceived inappropriate conduct.
“The people doing the reporting are concerned that if they knew about something and didn’t report it, then they would be liable for it.”
GP Dr Chris Pearce, a National E-Health Transition Authority clinical lead, labelled the US policy “conservative”, saying doctors should be looking to harness the opportunities created by online social networking.
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