Is it dangerous for a doctor to be online?

As more doctors are blogging, using Twitter, or are on Facebook, minding their online reputation becomes more important.

I’ve written and cited several pieces on this issue in the past, and it cannot be stressed enough that what you write or say online stays there forever.

Over at his blog at White Coat Underground, internist PalMD writes about the many potential pitfalls of physicians maintaining an online presence.

For instance, citing HIPAA patient privacy laws, he notes that it’s dangerous to write about individual cases, and instead, “amalgams of patients seen over the years rather than a single individual’s story,” may be a safer approach instead.

And again, don’t count on ever being anonymous on the web. It’s better to use your real name, and take a pro-active approach to your online reputation, rather than letting others define you.

Those wanting the expand online should read the entire piece, but especially, listen to PalMD’s take home point:

In medicine, your reputation is everything. Bad doctors with good reputations do very well, and good doctors with bad reputations starve. How you conduct yourself online is part of building this reputation. Being online can be very rewarding both personally and professionally, it just requires caution and forethought. Every doctor should think very, very hard before they push that “enter” key.

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