A recent Los Angeles Times article has brought to our attention an interesting Internet-age dilemma: “Would you ask your physician to be your Facebook friend’?” The collision between the internet and privacy is not a new a concern but the boundaries for protocol are constantly evolving and no sort of standard rules have yet been uniformly established or accepted.
What if a doctor who you are relatively close with and have developed a certain healthy dynamic and trust rejects your invitation? Should you take that as a personal insult? Conversely, what is the doctor accepts your invitation and he/she sees pictures of you eating a cheese hamburger and fries;if you are supposed to be on a low-fat, low-sodium, low-carb diet, is it the doctor’s duty to broach the subject. While that might be an invasion of privacy, technically speaking, that is in your best interest as a patient.
These questions are particularly intriguing question for aging adults, who might not be as well-versed in Internet etiquette as their younger counterparts. More often the not, proper Internet conduct is, not based on dogma or canonized law, but specific situational circumstances. Less Internet experience for seniors might mean weaker gut instincts when it comes to making these sort of “to friend, or not to friend” decisions.
The Los Angeles Times article sums up the dilemma and offers some sort of basic answer:
Ultimately, issues of Internet searching and connecting must be judged by the fact that the relationship between a patient and a doctor should be “professional,” says Jeffrey E. Barnett, a psychologist at Loyola University Marylandin Baltimore. Among other things, he says, that means “you have to think carefully about boundaries” and to err on the side of avoiding certain types of “multiple relationships,” such as being close social friends, business partners or, in the worst case, sexual partners.
You, your doctor and the Internet – (The Los Angeles Times)