Rhode Island Doctors: Don’t be Misunderstood

December 11, 2013

imagesApparently in Rhode Island the State Board stipulates that physicians should not be misunderstood.   Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline released Policy Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Social Media recently with the following assertion:

“Physicians should always act professionally and take caution not to post information that is ambiguous or that could be misconstrued or taken out of context.”

I suspect that if Rhode Island enforces these social media guidelines they’ll be very busy.  Short format, real time discussion is often misunderstood.  Commentary and dialog is often ambiguous and taken out of context.  It’s the nature of the tools.  I should add that consumers of this media share the responsibility of recognizing its limitations.

What’s more interesting, I know lots of doctors whose bedside communication is ambiguous, poorly conveyed, misconstrued and delivered out of context.

The italicized concerns noted above by the Rhode Island Board are precisely why we don’t use public communication platforms for patient-specific dialog.  Stick to that core recommendation and any discussion about ambiguity/misunderstanding becomes almost irrelevant.  It’s hard to get in too much trouble publicly sharing articles about celiac disease and vaccine safety.

The Rhode Island Board social media guidelines make for an interesting read.  They’re especially intersting if you’ve spent a lot of time using these tools.


Frank Fortin December 11, 2013 at 8:41 am

It seems to me that public officials would be well advised to take their own advice.

joannevalentinesimson December 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Amen, Brother F. F.
Life is uncertain; knowledge is fallible; language is imprecise and can always be misconstrued or taken out of context. If we wish to make everything we do or say unambiguous and/or infallible, we will do and say nothing. Then we will be doomed.

DrV December 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm

One word for that comment: brilliant.

Jim Salwitz December 12, 2013 at 8:21 am

Apparently the Rhode Island regulations are ambiguous and could be misconstrued or taken out of context.


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