Doctors criticizing vaccine or lockdown on social media could face regulatory action
Guide to good medical practice is updated to ensure doctors don’t give ‘misleading’ information
Doctors could face regulatory action if they post “misleading” information on social media, according to proposed new guidelines.
Tik Toks, tweets and Instagram posts could be reviewed by the medical regulator if a doctor is reported for an offense.
The General Medical Council (GMC) is updating its guide to good medical practice – considered by some to be a “modern Hippocratic oath”.
The GMC document, which outlines the professional values and expected behaviors of doctors working in the UK, has not been updated since 2013.
The latest version states that in public communications, physicians must “be honest and trustworthy; specify the limits of their knowledge; carry out reasonable checks to ensure that the information provided is not misleading; declare any conflict of interest and respect patient confidentiality”.
The updated guidelines, which are the subject of consultation, also aim to combat harassment in the workplace.
The guidelines include for the first time the duty of doctors to act, or help others to act, if they become aware of workplace bullying, harassment or discrimination, as well as zero tolerance for regarding sexual harassment.
Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, said: “Good medical practice is the foundation that helps guide ethical practice and helps physicians provide the best care possible in a world of increasingly complex medicine.
“This update is intended to be relevant and useful to healthcare professionals, and to benefit patients, now and for years to come.
“There is ample evidence of the damage poor working cultures can do to patient safety and ultimately the UK’s ability to retain the healthcare professionals it needs.
“Toxic cultures can also spread online, undermining public trust in the medical profession.
“It is important that our guidance reflects the reality of what physicians face and the cultures in which many work, and that it supports them to do the best they can for their patients and colleagues. To achieve this, we want to hear from as many people as possible about our proposed changes. »
Commenting on the new document, Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: “Good medical practice provides the fundamental ethical principles that all doctors in the UK should follow in order to provide patients with the best care. possible.
Much has changed in medicine in recent years, and the pandemic has heightened the pressures on frontline medical staff.
“It is therefore important to have the opportunity to reflect on the professional values, knowledge and behaviors expected of our doctors and surgeons. At the Royal College of Surgeons of England, we have worked hard to address some of the issues that have come to light regarding improving culture in surgery.
“We have been appalled by recent accounts of sexual harassment and abuse that some surgeons have shared on social media.
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“We are therefore delighted to see that there is specific advice on the prevention of bullying and sexual harassment in the draft GMC document.
“It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that the medical profession is welcoming and inclusive, regardless of a person’s background, race or gender. This means that we all treat each other with respect and challenge any unacceptable behavior.
“We will use the updated guide to good medical practice and lessons learned by the profession over the past few years as the basis for our core standards document, Good Surgical Practice, when we review it.”