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GDC offers social media guidance for dentists

Posted by Joanne Mellor

Dentists are being urged to think before they tweet, as part of new guidelines from the General Dental Council (GDC).

The new GDC Standards came into effect on Monday (September 30th) and are the first to specifically focus a section on rules regarding conduct on social media.

Dental professionals are warned not to post “any information about patients on social networking or blogging sites” and that measures should also be actively taken not to identify patients even in anonymised cases that are being discussed for the purpose of debating best practice.

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) has supported the general message of caution by the GDC.

MDDUS head of dental division Aubrey Craig said: “It is vitally important to keep professional and personal relationships separate. Dentists who interact with patients via social media risk blurring these boundaries.”

He added that the new guidance should give dentists who utilise social media “clarity and direction” on what is acceptable and what is not – which in turn should help them to steer clear of any conflicts of interest in this area. 

That is not to be said that social media is entirely a bad thing for dental professionals – with effective dental marketing campaigns able to make the most of these platforms by communicating with potential new patients on the benefits of joining their practice, for example.

The GDC also advises that dentists should “think carefully before accepting friend requests” submitted by patients. Further guidance also states that they should regularly review privacy settings in order to make sure that information cannot be accessed by “unintended audiences”. 

A warning has also been issued within the Standards that even the strictest of privacy settings do not guarantee overall security and that dental professionals should accept that when posting information online.

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