Physicians are discouraged from providing care to their own family members and friends.6 The American College of Physicians Ethics Manual states: “Physicians should usually not enter into the dual relationship of physician–family member or physician–friend for a variety of reasons. The patient may be at risk of receiving inferior care from the physician. Problems may include effects on clinical objectivity, inadequate history-taking or physical examination, over-testing, inappropriate prescribing, incomplete counseling on sensitive issues, or failure to keep appropriate medical records.”4
Becoming friends with a patient on social media may lead to a deeper interpersonal relationship, one that may blur the boundaries of the patient–physician relationship.
Professional organizations have developed a few guidelines for interacting with patients on social media. The American Medical Association’s policy, for example, advises physicians to establish “appropriate boundaries” in their relationships with their patients.7 It further advises against publishing any confidential health information online and making sure that professional content is kept separate from personal content on social media platforms.