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HomeminewsNew Social Media Code for Optoms

New Social Media Code for Optoms

The Optometry Board of Australia has revised a number of guidelines – and introduced a Social Media Policy – for optometrists. The new policy singles out for special mention the use of unauthorised patient photographs in social media – even on private, closed or “invisible” online boards – and applies to all social networking sites, even those used personally or published anonymously.

The Board says optometrists and students in Board-approved courses are expected to comply.

The suite of documents include revisions to the Guidelines for advertising regulated health services; Guidelines for mandatory notifications; a revised Code of Conduct and the new Social Media Policy.

Online Obligations

In its introduction to the new Social Media Policy, the OBA states: “Whether an online activity is able to be viewed by the public or is limited to a specific group of people, health professionals need to maintain professional standards and be aware of the implications of their actions, as in all professional circumstances,” the policy states. “Health professionals need to be aware that information circulated on social media may end up in the public domain, and remain there, irrespective of the intent at the time of posting.”

The OBA says the new policy “does not change the basic obligations that practitioners must meet”, but rather “explains how the obligations that already exist in the National Law and Code of Conduct apply to social media. The basic principle is that the same expectations apply to your behaviour wherever it occurs – online or in person,” the OBA says.

In relation to photographs, the Policy clarifies the existing Code of Conduct relating to patient privacy by saying “posting unauthorised photographs of patients in any medium” breaches patient’s privacy and confidentiality, “including on a personal Facebook site or group even if the privacy settings are set at the highest setting”.