Fear of Facebook: Private Ordering of Social Media Risks Incurred by Healthcare Providers

42 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2011

See all articles by Nicolas Terry

Nicolas Terry

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law


The last two years have seen important quantitative and qualitative shifts in social media use patterns in the healthcare environment. Reacting to present and future risks there has been a rapid deployment of private ordering: social media policies and other contractual constructs emanating from physicians, professional organizations, employers and educators. These private, often contractual attempts to regulate online interactions or social media conduct are not all benign, themselves creating ethical or legal risk. This article, a follow-up to Physicians And Patients Who ‘Friend’ Or ‘Tweet’: Constructing A Legal Framework For Social Networking In A Highly Regulated Domain, 43 IND. L. REV. 285 (2010), concentrates on social media and these new risk management constructs. Part II provides updated statistics on Internet use by healthcare workers and explores some of the scenarios that have led medical schools and healthcare entities to expressly address social media behavior. Part III inquires into how professional organizations or those who employ or credential physicians have attempted to change the rules of the game by promulgating social media policies and analyses some of the legal constraints on those policies. Part IV deals with the reality of medically relevant information about patients increasingly moving online and asks whether physicians should attempt to access information that might be useful or even life-saving. Finally, Part V describes how the patient-physician dialog has increasingly spilled out of the consulting room and onto social media sites and explores how physicians should react not only to overtures for social media friendship but also to online critical patient comments.

Suggested Citation

Terry, Nicolas P., Fear of Facebook: Private Ordering of Social Media Risks Incurred by Healthcare Providers. Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-22, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1908346 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1908346

Nicolas P. Terry (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 W. New York St
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

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