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May 20th, 2015

Guideline #7: Be Friendly with Patients, but not “Friends”

By Lee Aase, Director, Mayo Clinic Social Media Network

Mayo Shields.Blue Background.BorderWhile all the Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Guidelines for Employees protect our organization and employees alike, guideline seven is particularly protective of employees:

Mayo Clinic strongly discourages “friending” of patients on social media websites. Staff in patient care roles generally should not initiate or accept friend requests except in unusual circumstances such as the situation where an in-person friendship pre-dates the treatment relationship.

Because being “friends” on Facebook opens both parties to sharing personal information, we believe that it’s almost never a good idea for medical professionals to risk going beyond normal professional boundaries with patients.

There are exceptions. I was a Facebook friend with my former Mayo Clinic Health System physician in Austin, but that’s because we had known each other for three decades; we had been high school classmates.

Dr. Farris Timimi, our MCCSM Medical Director, employs what he calls The Breaking Bread Rule: If he would have the patient over to dinner socially, that’s a patient from whom he would accept a Facebook friend request.

As Mayo employees we always want to be friendly with patients and their families. This guideline provides a reason to politely decline Facebook friend requests. By citing it, we can maintain the positive, friendly patient-provider relationship.

Besides, it’s still possible to interact on Facebook without being friends. Joining a common group enables conversation and connections without sharing access to personal profile information. That’s the safer and better way to engage.

Next Post
Guideline #8: Online “Friending” Should be Voluntary

 

Tags: Employee Communications

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