August 09, 2007

Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics

I just came across this concept through Nick Gene's Pre-Rounds Interview with Dr. Lei of Eye on DNA.
Med Blogger Code of Ethics:
1. Clear representation of perspective - readers must understand the training and overall perspective of the author of a blog. Certainly bloggers can have opinions on subjects outside of their training, and these opinions may be true, but readers must have a place to look on a blog to get an idea of where this author is coming from. This also encompasses the idea of the distinction between advertisement and content. This does not preclude anonymous blogging, but it asks that even anonymous bloggers share the professional perspective from which they are blogging.
2. Confidentiality - Bloggers must respect the nature of the relationship between patient and medical professionals and the clear need for confidentiality. All discussions of patients must be done in a way in which patients’ identity cannot be inferred.
3. Commercial Disclosure - the presence or absence of commercial ties of the author must be made clear for the readers. If the author is using their blog to pitch a product, it must be clear that they are doing that. Any ties to device manufacturer and/or pharmaceutical company ties must be clearly stated.
4. Reliability of Information - citing sources when appropriate and changing inaccuracies when they are pointed out
5. Courtesy - Bloggers should not engage in personal attacks, nor should they allow their commenters to do so. Debate and discussion of ideas is one of the major purposes of blogging. While the ideas people hold should be criticized and even confronted, the overall purpose is a discussion of ideas, not those who hold ideas.

I agree with these ideas, especially those about Reliability of Information. There's so much garbage out on the internet that obscures the truth... it's important for health professionals to ensure that they are providing a refuge from this refuse!

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