Research Letter Spotlights Improper Physician Online Conduct

A research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests a need for medical boards to monitor online physician behaviors as diligently as it does real-life physician behaviors, according to a Health Day report.

Researchers conducted a survey of 68 medical boards, of which 48 responded. An analysis of those survey responses revealed the following:

•    92 percent reported at least one online violation of professionalism had been reported.
•    The most common examples of online unprofessionalism include sexual misconduct (69 percent), inappropriate practice, such as online prescribing without a proper clinical relationship (63 percent) and misrepresentation of credentials (60 percent.)
•    71 percent conducted formal proceedings after reported violations, while 25 percent said no action was taken for at least one violation.
•    56 percent of respondents said some online violations led to restricted, suspended or revoked licenses.

"Just about everyone now has heard of someone they know who's done something online that they wish they hadn't done. I think the message is that medical professionals are responsible for what they put online — not only responsible for the information, but accountable," said lead letter author Ryan Greysen, MD, an assistant professor in the division of hospital medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

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