Even homeopaths, chiropractors have social media rules

2016-01-18 14:41
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - If your homeopath or acupuncturist has unfriended you on Facebook, don't take it personally - they are probably just getting in line with their newly published code of ethics.

In terms of the long-awaited Code of Ethics, practitioners are advised to be conscious of their online image, and how it impacts on their professional standing and their profession.

According to the new code, members of the Allied Health Professions Council of SA (AHPCSA) may not insult other practitioners online, or dispense health advice on a platform accessible by the public or a third party.

They have to retain the same confidentiality on social media as they do in their consulting rooms, and are advised not to follow patients on social media.

The council maintains a register of people qualified in homeopathy, chiropractics, osteopathy, Chinese acupuncture, ayurveda and Unani-Tibb (an ancient Arabic form of medicine) and has been working on the code since 2001.

It was published in the Government Gazette in December and, said registrar Dr Louis Mullinder, the code's intention was to protect patients above all.

It also sets rules on when sick notes may be issued, the size of signage, holding shares in health facilities such as spas, and sharing office space with non-practitioners.

It disallows the words "healing" and "cured" in a set of strict operational guidelines on advertising and promotion.

"Nobody can claim to have cured or healed a person," said Nullinder.

"If you give somebody something for high blood pressure, when you stop doing that, the condition resurfaces.

"The code of ethics is to protect the health of the public because we appreciate that people who are ill are very susceptible."

Registration with the AHPCSA requires proof of degrees from institutions such as the University of Johannesburg, and it sets out which qualifications from overseas institutions are recognised.

Regulations pertaining to traditional healers, like sangomas, are still in the pipeline with the Interim Traditional Health Practitioners' Council.

Read more on:    health  |  social media

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