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Is It Ever Appropriate for a ‘Professional’ to Become Social Media “Friends” with a Patient on Their Social Networking Site?

  • Date Submitted: 03/09/2013 07:37 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 38.7 
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7033HSV Assessment Item 1
Ethical Position Paper
Is it ever appropriate for a ‘professional’ to become social media “friends” with a patient on their social networking site?
Ethical issue, framing of the ethical question, effective use of practice based literature to explore diff perspectives on the issue
In a world strongly driven by modern technology the ethical dilemmas of social networking sites are all too apparent, especially when considering the traditionally strict boundaries outlined between doctor and patient.   Vorzimer (2010) states ‘caregivers, especially psychiatrists and therapists, have historically disclosed personal information only when it might benefit a patient.   Likewise, patients have typically disclosed personal details in their own time, as therapy continues and trust develops.’  
Are social networking sites challenging this notion? As we try and balance the personal with the professional, is the issue of what’s right and wrong in question? Ethics are not rules and therefore as a result there is a much wider debate needed to answer such ethical predicaments.  
The momentum in which social networking has taken is astonishing, for instance within the last five years or so the development of Facebook, Myspace and Google search engine recording billions of hits per day.   This phenomenon challenges the usual gradual sharing of personal information central to a therapeutic relationship ie, doctor –patient.   There has been much controversy in the media regarding seeking personal information out via the web regarding job recruitment, paedophile rings and political agendas to name a few.  
Facebook is quickly growing into much more than a “social networking” site, with more and more people using the site to promote a variety of professional connections. And as such ethical questions arise regarding potential conflict when your professional and personal worlds collide.   The literature around social networking and health focuses on boundary issues and...

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