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CME / ABIM MOC

Ethics, Professionalism, and the Physician Social Media Influencer

  • Authors: Case History by Vishal Khetpal, MD, MSc, Diana Jung, MD, and Nathanial S. Nolan, MD, MPH; Case Commentary by Vishal Khetpal, MD, MSc, Lois Snyder Sulmasy, JD, and Nathanial S. Nolan, MD, MPH
  • CME / ABIM MOC Released: 12/18/2020; Reviewed and Renewed: 12/9/2022
  • Valid for credit through: 12/9/2023
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  • Credits Available

    Physicians - maximum of 0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™

    ABIM Diplomates - maximum of 0.25 ABIM MOC points

    You Are Eligible For

    • Letter of Completion
    • ABIM MOC points

Target Audience and Goal Statement

This article is intended for physicians who may use social media and/or be social influencers.

The goal of this activity is to describe why being a physician social media influencer can be ethically problematic as well as other challenges involved in physician use of social media, according to an American College of Physicians (ACP) ethics case history and commentary.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the ethical considerations of using social media, according to an ACP ethics case history and commentary
  • Determine potential negative consequences of physician-influencers promoting products or services on their social media especially for financial or other gain, according to an ACP ethics case history and commentary
  • Identify potential benefits of physicians using social media, according to an ACP ethics case history and commentary


Disclosures

As an organization accredited by the ACCME, Medscape, LLC, requires everyone who is in a position to control the content of an education activity to disclose all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest. The ACCME defines "relevant financial relationships" as financial relationships in any amount, occurring within the past 12 months, including financial relationships of a spouse or life partner, that could create a conflict of interest.

Medscape, LLC, encourages Authors to identify investigational products or off-label uses of products regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, at first mention and where appropriate in the content.


Authors, Case History

  • Vishal Khetpal, MD, MSc

    Department of Medicine 
    Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University 
    Providence, Rhode Island 

    Disclosures

    Disclosure: Vishal Khetpal, MD, MSc, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

  • Diana Jung, MD

    Resident 
    Department of Medicine
    Unity Health-White County Medical Center 
    Searcy, Arkansas 

    Disclosures

    Disclosure: Diana Jung, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

  • Nathanial S. Nolan, MD, MPH

    Clinical Fellow 
    Division of Infectious Disease 
    Washington University School of Medicine 
    St Louis, Missouri 

    Disclosures

    Disclosure: Nathanial S. Nolan, MD, MPH, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Authors, Case Commentary

  • Lois Snyder Sulmasy, JD

    Director
    Center for Ethics and Professionalism
    American College of Physicians
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Disclosures

    Disclosure: Lois Snyder Sulmasy, JD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

  • Nathanial S. Nolan, MD, MPH

    Disclosures

    As seen above.

CME Author

  • Laurie Barclay, MD

    Freelance writer and reviewer
    Medscape, LLC

    Disclosures

    Disclosure: Laurie Barclay, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Editor

  • Lois Snyder Sulmasy, JD

    Director
    Center for Ethics and Professionalism
    American College of Physicians
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Disclosures

    Disclosure: Lois Snyder Sulmasy, JD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

CME Reviewer

  • Hazel Dennison, DNP, RN, FNP, CHCP, CPHQ, CNE

    Associate Director, Accreditation and Compliance
    Medscape, LLC

    Disclosures

    Disclosure: Hazel Dennison, DNP, RN, FNP, CHCP, CPHQ, CNE, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Medscape, LLC staff have disclosed that they have no relevant financial relationships.

The authors would like to thank Paula Katz, staff at the ACP Center for Ethics and Professionalism, for editorial assistance.


Accreditation Statements



In support of improving patient care, Medscape, LLC is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

    For Physicians

  • The case and commentary were developed by the American College of Physicians.

    Medscape, LLC designates this enduring material for a maximum of 0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ . Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

    Successful completion of this CME activity, which includes participation in the evaluation component, enables the participant to earn up to 0.25 MOC points in the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. Participants will earn MOC points equivalent to the amount of CME credits claimed for the activity. It is the CME activity provider's responsibility to submit participant completion information to ACCME for the purpose of granting ABIM MOC credit.

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For questions regarding the content of this activity, contact the accredited provider for this CME/CE activity noted above. For technical assistance, contact [email protected]


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This activity is designed to be completed within the time designated on the title page; physicians should claim only those credits that reflect the time actually spent in the activity. To successfully earn credit, participants must complete the activity online during the valid credit period that is noted on the title page. To receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™, you must receive a minimum score of 75% on the post-test.

Follow these steps to earn CME/CE credit*:

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  2. Study the educational content online or printed out.
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CME / ABIM MOC

Ethics, Professionalism, and the Physician Social Media Influencer

Authors: Case History by Vishal Khetpal, MD, MSc, Diana Jung, MD, and Nathanial S. Nolan, MD, MPH; Case Commentary by Vishal Khetpal, MD, MSc, Lois Snyder Sulmasy, JD, and Nathanial S. Nolan, MD, MPHFaculty and Disclosures

CME / ABIM MOC Released: 12/18/2020; Reviewed and Renewed: 12/9/2022

Valid for credit through: 12/9/2023

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Case History

Alice Jones is an internal medicine intern starting at Smith Hospital. At orientation, she meets Brad Green, a second-year resident. In conversation, he mentions how he follows physicians on Instagram who offer advice about residency, discuss anonymous cases on the wards, and post how-to videos for performing hospital procedures (such as peripheral IVs and thoracenteses). He also mentions that he posts frequently on Instagram and invites Dr Jones to follow his account.

 Finding his account online, she notices that he has more than 40,000 followers on Instagram. His name on the account is listed as "Brad, MD," and his Instagram handle is @dr_brad. His recent posts include the birth of a child and family trips to a nearby big city, but Dr Brad also promotes products for businesses through posts that often include anecdotes about his time in residency, with photos of him at Smith Hospital. One series of posts, for example, highlight a local gym that gives him a free membership. Other posts feature him recommending a company's weight loss product and offer a 20% promotional discount for its products. Each company pays Dr Brad according to the number of his followers.

 Dr Jones enjoys some of Brad's posts but feels uneasy, especially about those in which he promotes products. She later finds similar posts by another resident physician. She wonders if these accounts violate any ethical principles or professional boundaries and what she should do about her concerns.

Table of Contents

  1. Case History
  2. Commentary
  • Print