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Your Medical Clients Should Know Legal Pitfalls of Social Media

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 23, 2011 6:45 AM

For health care facilities and doctors, social media can be a great tool, allowing medical providers to connect to patients in new ways, and helping facilities build brands, establish a place in the community, and increase education efforts.

But with social media comes an increased responsibility, along with an increase in legal liability.

If you represent any physicians or medical facilities, it might be time to have a conversation about the following risks.

1. Malpractice concerns.

By giving advice on social media, doctors may be binding themselves to a professional relationship that would otherwise not exist. With the inability to see and feel a patient, this situation is a prime opportunity for a medical malpractice suit.

2. Privacy concerns.

Physicians and facility personnel are bound by certain privacy laws, and with social media's tendency towards over-sharing, an obscure comment can become a big lawsuit. This is particularly true of photos that may picture patients, and statements about case, even though a patient is unnamed.

3. Reputation concerns.

If not used right, social media can destroy the reputation of both medical facilities and doctors. Social media blurs the boundaries between provider and patient, and, when in the wrong hands, conveys the wrong message to the community at large.

Given these potential risks, and the fact that the use of social media in the medical profession is continuing to grow, it may be necessary to develop specially tailored social media policies for healthcare facilities and doctors.

Social media can be good, but only if you can minimize the bad.

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