Avoid flirty patients on Facebook

2009-12-03 10:51

London - A British association which provides legal advice and support to doctors said physicians should not respond to amorous advances from patients on social networking sites like Facebook.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU), which describes itself as "the UK's leading medical defence organisation" said it is aware of a number of cases where patients have attempted to proposition doctors by sending them an unsolicited message on Facebook or similar sites.

The MDU said in a statement that it advises its members that responding to patients in this way may be seen as overstepping the professional boundary of the doctor/patient relationship.

"The pitfalls posed to doctors using social networking sites by inadvertently breaching confidentiality or posting unprofessional content, such as photos, have been well documented," MDU medico-legal adviser Dr. Emma Cuzner said.

But she said doctors may be less prepared for patients using sites like Facebook to ask them out on a date.

"Some doctors have told the MDU they feel it would be rude not to reply, if only to politely refuse, but given that this is not a professional route of communication, any correspondence of this sort would clearly stray outside the doctor/patient relationship."

'Intimate examinations'

The MDU cited a case in which a female general practitioner (GP) was asked out for a drink by a patient as she left her surgery. When she declined, the patient started pestering the doctor via Facebook and sent her a bunch of her favourite flowers, lilies, which he had ascertained from her freely available Facebook page.

The MDU said it helped the GP nip the patient's advances in the bud, and also suggested she considered employing some of the security and privacy settings on the site.

The MDU also said that doctors should be wary about the issues surrounding the use, or absence of chaperones, for intimate examinations.

In a five-year study, MDU clinical risk manager Karen Roberts, reviewed claims and complaints about women's health made against GPs.

During the five-year period of the study, there were 48 complaints about the use, or more usually the absence, of a chaperone for an intimate examination.

The majority of complainants alleged an inappropriate examination had taken place or that no chaperone was offered, although six patients complained about the presence of a chaperone or that the doctor would not perform the examination without one.

The MDU said it advises doctors that, as well as offering a chaperone for intimate examinations, communication is often the key to avoiding such complaints.

"Doctors are advised to explain the reason for an examination and what it will involve and to ensure the patient is given privacy to undress and not to make personal comments during the examination," the MDU said.

Read more on:    internet  |  health  |  social networks

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Africa: Land of Billionaires!

Find out who are the richest of the richest in Africa!



Jurassic World trailer is epic!
Best bro movies 2014
Every man should be able to do these three things
Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Hot festive offers at kalahari.com!

Hurry! Stocks are limited. Don’t miss out. Shop Now!

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may feel divided. Conflict between mind and emotions can create tension or indecision. This could lead to stressful feelings...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.