Social media and physicians: the Indian scenario
Consent and ethics are integral to a physician’s work. Patient images have been used for multiple purposes in medical practice; as an adjunct to clinical care, displayed to colleagues, students and other audiences in educational settings, and published in medical journals. But nowadays there is an increasing trend towards sharing patient pictures and videos online, on social media platforms. Though usually shared privately with friends, these photographs and videos end up in the public domain, accessible to everyone. Most often, these photographs do not even comply with the basic rules of clinical photography, especially of making the patient unrecognisable. Such behaviour on the part of a physician, some may say, is tantamount to invasion of privacy and poses a serious threat to the relationship of trust between doctor and patient. A physician should always respect his patient’s privacy. In hospitals, patients usually feel a sense of gratitude towards the physician treating them. As a result, patients usually don’t complain when their photographs are shared by doctors. Though the responsibility for these photographs shared online lies with the physician, patients must be made aware that with the evolution of electronic publication, once an image is published there is no efficient control over its future misuse.
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