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Medical Board Issues Physician Guidance for Use of Social Media

In a world of rapidly evolving information technology, the Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline (BMLD) has created and approved policy guidance for the appropriate use of social media in the practice of medicine. Rhode Island's guidelines are based on guidance of the Federation of State Medical Boards.

"Social media provides opportunities for physicians to easily communicate with patients, and to share information about health and wellness," said Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. "However, it is imperative that these resources be used appropriately. We want to help physicians avoid unintentional professional misconduct while using social media."

Some of the key points of the policy statement include: • Physicians should recognize that they are personally and professionally responsible for any content they post on the internet and postings may have unintended consequences. • A patient's right to confidentiality and privacy still exists online. • Physicians should not exhibit unprofessional behavior when using social media. Physicians should never use discriminatory language or practices online.

In addition, healthcare providers should: • Establish separate personal and professional accounts on social media sites. • Review their employer's specific social media policy. • Make sure any staff who has permission to post on a social media account understands and agrees to any social media policy. • Report any unprofessional behavior to the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline.

To view the BMLD's complete policy statement, visit


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