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Framework for the Creation of Ethical and Professional Social Media Content

Schoenbrunner, Anna M.D.; Gosman, Amanda M.D.; Bajaj, Anureet K. M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: July 2019 - Volume 144 - Issue 1 - p 118e-125e
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000005782
Plastic Surgery Focus: Special Topics

Background: Social media are powerful tools that allow users to communicate directly with an online community. Plastic surgeons were early adopters of social media, recognizing their educational and marketing potential. With the use of social media comes ethical and legal concerns. The lack of professional society policies on social media use has led to calls for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to establish guidelines regarding the use of social media in medical practice. The authors propose a framework for the creation of ethical and professional social media content.

Methods: The authors reviewed the updated American Society of Plastic Surgeons Code of Ethics, current professional organization codes of ethics and social media guidelines, recently published articles, and legal documents pertaining to social media use in medical practice.

Results: The updated American Society of Plastic Surgeons Code of Ethics provides adequate guidance for the professional use of social media in plastic surgery practice. The authors drew on the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Code of Ethics along with existing professional society guidelines to develop a framework for the professional and ethical creation of social media content. The authors also propose a sample informed consent form for social media use.

Conclusions: Social media are powerful tools that will continue to transform the practice of plastic surgery and medicine at large. Plastic surgeons must uphold values of professionalism and ethics when using social media to protect patients and maintain the high professional standards of the specialty.

Columbus, Ohio; San Diego, Calif.; and Oklahoma City, Okla.

From the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, The Ohio State University; the Division of Plastic Surgery, University of California, San Diego; and Bajaj Plastic Surgery.

Received for publication May 20, 2018; accepted November 1, 2018.

Disclosure:The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

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Anureet K. Bajaj, M.D., Bajaj Plastic Surgery, 8106 North May Avenue, Suite B, Oklahoma City, Okla. 73120,, Instagram: @anukbajajmd, @bajajplasticsurgery

Copyright © 2019 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons