Navigation Links
Physicians fail to disclose conflicts of interest on social media
Date:11/11/2012

As the use of Twitter and other social media by physicians and patients rises, more and more physicians seem to forget to do what many consider crucial for building doctor-patient trust: disclose potential conflicts of interest. However, physicians are not entirely at fault: prominent medical societies have failed to lay out comprehensive guidelines for physicians on when and how to disclose a conflict of interest when utilizing social media.

In a commentary published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Matthew DeCamp, M.D., Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Division of General Internal Medicine, argues that some physicians use social media to give advice to patients and the public without revealing drug industry ties or other information that may bias their opinions. Without serious efforts to divulge such information standard practice when publishing in medical journals and recommended in one-on-one contacts with patients DeCamp says consumers are left in the dark.

"As physicians and patients increasingly interact online, the standards of appropriate behavior become really unclear," says DeCamp, who also holds a fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. "In light of norms of disclosure accepted throughout medicine, it's surprising that major medical guidelines fail to adequately address this issue."

Among the national organizations that have issued social media guidelines are the American Medical Association and the Federation of State Medical Boards.

DeCamp acknowledges that use of social media has the potential to improve patient care and trust by increasing patient access to information, but vigorous online "boundaries" are needed to not only assure privacy and confidentiality, but also to protect patients from misinformation and biased advice.

In an office setting, for example, when doctors prescribe a blood pressure medication, professional guidelines say they are ethically bound to tell patients if they have any financial relationship such as receipt of consulting fees with the company that manufactures the drug. Guidelines also call for disclosure when they publish studies about blood pressure medication, and medical journals require them to fill out a detailed disclosure form. But online, it's "an unacceptably gray area," DeCamp says.

One reason may be difficulty in determining just how to disclose within the constraints of the online world, DeCamp notes. The popular social media tool Twitter, for example, allows each entry to be just 140 characters long. But a generic disclosure "The author has no conflict of interest to report related to this tweet" has 70, leaving little room to discuss the research itself.

DeCamp says one solution is the use of electronic tags that disclose conflicts of interest and follow the information tweeted and re-tweeted by a physician. At the very least, he says, doctors should post potential conflicts in their online profiles, and consumers should be wary of posts and advice from anyone claiming to be a doctor.

One social networking website known as Sermo.com is open to physicians only and is designed to facilitate discussions of treatment options. But DeCamp says the relative anonymity of the site means users don't know about the potential conflicts of peers they encounter there, and whether information is biased because of financial conflicts. Although the site recommends voluntary disclosure, it is not required or monitored, he says.

Healthtap.com is billed as a free virtual "house call" service linking patients with physicians who quickly provide online answers to patients' questions. Although physicians are identified by name, and the site terms require physicians to disclose, studies suggest physicians sometimes fail to disclose in the online realm. Patients again might be unable to tell whether conflicts have biased the answer.

The absence of stricter guidelines for online doctor-patient interactions is especially puzzling, DeCamp says, given the move to ever-stricter disclosure requirements offline. There has been a movement from simple disclosure to better efforts to manage and eliminate conflicts.

While some professional guidelines do recommend disclosure in social media, DeCamp says, they don't lay out how it should be done, while many ignore the topic altogether.

"The history of conflict of interest in medicine is such that you don't want to be late to the table," DeCamp says. "You need to be proactive so that your undisclosed conflict doesn't end up on the front page of The New York Times. Conflicts need to be disclosed and it's surprising that we have so far to go regarding disclosure and management on social media."


'/>"/>

Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Physicians call for improvements to countrys public health system to protect US residents
2. Awards to 5 IU School of Medicine physicians address critical need for geriatricians
3. Image share project gives patients and physicians anytime, anywhere access to medical images
4. Brief training program improves resident physicians empathy with patients
5. US Army internal medicine Masters, Fellows honored by American College of Physicians
6. Antiretroviral treatment for preventing HIV infection: an evidence review for physicians
7. US Army internal medicine residents receive awards from American College of Physicians
8. Surgeon General receives 2012 Distinguished Public Service Award from internal medicine physicians
9. American Academy of Family Physicians joins AmericanEHR Partners
10. AFARs MSTAR program addresses shortage of geriatric medicine physicians
11. AFTS Labs Partners With Physicians To Complement NY's Mandated I-STOP Tracking System For Pain Pill Prescriptions: A Recipe For A Safer Community
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... policy issues and applications at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, at ... on several important health care topics including advance care planning, healthcare costs and ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... First Choice Emergency Room ... Dr. Sesan Ogunleye, as the Medical Director of its new Mesquite-Samuell Farm facility. ... of our new Mesquite location,” said Dr. James M. Muzzarelli, Executive Medical Director of ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits of moderation, whether it’s a ... the bar too high can result in disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. However, those who ... , Research from PsychTests.com reveals that behind the tendency to set ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, eight, was out ... family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control his emotions,” remembers ... would throw rocks at my other children and say he was going to kill them. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Comfort Keepers® of San Diego, CA ... the Road To Recovery® program to drive cancer patients to and from their cancer ... ensure the highest quality of life and ongoing independence. Getting to and from ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  In a startling report released today, ... residents by lacking a comprehensive, proven plan to eliminate prescription opioid ... ranking of how states are tackling the worst drug crisis in ... states – Kentucky , New Mexico ... . Of the 28 failing states, three – ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. ... biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development and ... enrollment in its ongoing randomized HOPE-Duchenne clinical trial ... of its 24-patient target. Capricor expects the trial ... of 2016, and to report top line data ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Calif. , June 23, 2016 ... CST on Thursday, July 7, 2016 , , , , ... ) , , , , EXPERT PANELISTS:  , , ... Naik; Senior Industry Analyst, Christi Bird; Senior Industry Analyst, Divyaa Ravishankar ... The global pharmaceutical industry is witnessing an exceptional ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: