Fondazione Zoé

Is it fair for a doctor to accept their patients friend requests on Facebook?

In the age of Facebook (and Twitter, but that’s another story), a patient might request their doctor to be their ‘friend’- at least that is what seems to be a growing trend. It is a sort of unwritten rule that Facebook users do not reject a friendship request unless you really don’t like them, even if you do not know the person in question. It is then that the total of friends you have indicates your popularity. So Facebook then becomes a virtual marketplace where we exchange addresses and opinions and post photos and videos. An intense debate has begun in the world of doctor-patient communication, whether it is really appropriate to use this tool. Many professionals say that there is no harm in it, rather it favours a more relaxed and informal relationship, which allows the doctor to treat the patient better, especially if you are in the presence of a person who finds it difficult to forge relationships. Others argue that it is not ethical to use the internet to maintain contact with patients, because it creates a kind of intimacy that makes it difficult to maintain a professional relationship. Why add me on Facebook where I share my photos and opinions that are unrelated to work, in short a space which I do not necessarily want to share with those who I care for. But if I ignore your request, it could seem that I want to hide from them or keep my distance from them.

What do you think?

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