06/11/2009 - I blog, I tweet and I use Facebook. And as I recently told a medical colleague, social media has been an enormously useful tool in my work.
"I can barely keep up with e-mail," he snorted back. "I’m not about to open up that black box."
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A survey released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that 61 percent of Americans go online for health information, and the majority of them have turned to user-generated health information. But a quick scan through peer-reviewed journals reveals only a handful of articles, and no evidence-based guidelines, to guide doctors on the use of social media. It is unclear whether such engagement adds to or detracts from a therapeutic patient-doctor relationship, and clinicians are unsure about what constitutes good standards of care and professional responsibility on these platforms. For example, should doctors give out diagnoses or prescribe treatment on Facebook or a blog? If doctors and patients communicate on Twitter, is a doctor liable if she or he misses a patient’s tweets about the acute onset of shortness of breath?
Read the full article Medicine in the Age of Twitter on the New York Times' Web site.