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Study finds med students Tweeting patient info

Unbecoming Conduct 2.0

Memo to med students: tame your tweets.

A study published this week found that 60 percent of medical school deans who responded to a survey reported incidents of students posting sexually provocative comments, videos of drunken behavior, or other unprofessional content on Web 2.0 sites.

Thirteen percent of respondents reported students had violated patient confidentiality, the authors found. Their study, the first to assess online postings of unbecoming content by medical students, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Despite a majority of deans reporting incidents of unprofessionalism in students' online posts, only about 38 percent of schools had policies that covered content left on social networking sites. Of those without such policies, only 11 percent reported actively working on drafting policies.

People who share personal details on Facebook, Twitter, and other Web 2.0 sites have long been warned that employers frequently read such posts when vetting the job candidate's background. One would think someone bright enough to get into med school would already have acquired such pearls of wisdom, but the data suggest otherwise.

Forty-eight percent of responding schools reported "frankly discriminatory language," 39 percent reported "depiction of intoxication and 38 percent reported "sexually suggestive material." Of schools that reported taking disciplinary action, two-thirds said they gave students an informal warning and 7 percent reported student dismissal. ®

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