Blogs

Think before you post

09 Dec 2020

Karen Stephens

by Karen Stephens

Laptop with stethoscope

Social media comments can be posted in an instant, but an ill-judged comment posted by a doctor may have unforeseen consequences.

MDA National Members have received Ahpra complaints about:

  • Criticising people and posting negative reviews
  • Comments about COVID-19
  • Comments made as part of a doctor’s role with a non-medical organisation
  • Arguing with other social media users about gender/religion/politics.

Disciplinary action in the public domain includes:

  • A GP whose registration was suspended because of his social media commentary on clinical issues and his opinions about religious and other groups
  • An emergency medicine registrar who was suspended for making inappropriate and offensive statements on a Singaporean online forum.

The Medical Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct states that doctors have the right to share their personal views, but should consider how their comments might reflect on their role as a doctor and the profession as a whole. Doctors are expected not to contradict public health campaigns, or to promote content that is not supported by scientific evidence.

Further, social media guidance published by the Board states that they “may consider social media use in your private life (even where there is no identifiable link to you as a registered health practitioner) if it raises concerns about your fitness to hold registration”.

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This blog contains general information only. We recommend you contact your medical defence organisation or insurer when you require specific advice in relation to medico-legal matters.

 

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Dr Nick Coatsworth is an expert in health policy, public administration and a practising infectious diseases physician. He held a national role in the Australian response to COVID-19 as Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Australia, becoming one of the most recognised medical spokespeople during the pandemic. Nick engaged the Australian community through a variety of media platforms most notably as the spearhead of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Dr Micheal Gannon, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, sits down with Dr Nick Coatsworth to discuss Nick's medical career journey, and what insights and advice he has for junior doctors. MDA National would like to acknowledge the contributions of MDA National staff, Members, friends and colleagues in the production of the podcast and note that this work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under applicable copyright law, you may not reproduce the content of this podcast without the permission of MDA National. This podcast contains generic information only, is intended to stimulate thought and discussion, and doesn’t account for requirements of any particular individual. The content may contain opinions which are not necessarily those of MDA National. We recommend that you always contact your indemnity provider when you require specific advice in relation to your insurance policy or medico-legal matters. MDA National Members need to contact us for specific medico-legal advice on freecall 1800 011 255 or email advice@mdanational.com.au. We may also refer you to other professional services.

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