Category Archives: Patient


Can Patients be Facebook Friends with Doctors?

This is updated from a post in my old blog dated 10/05/10.

Last week, a patient surprised me by saying, “Doc, ang ganda mo pala sa Facebook!” Translated: Doctor, you look pretty in Facebook! Though she said it as a compliment, I felt uncomfortable on two counts. First, did she mean that I wasn’t pretty in person? 🙂 Ah, vanity! Second, and more importantly, why was she looking me up in Facebook? She must have sensed my discomfort and didn’t say anything further. I was afraid she might ask me directly if we could be Facebook friends. Thankfully, she didn’t! Because I would have said No.

A few months back, I got a PM on Facebook from someone saying she was the daughter of my patient. She was asking me something about the patient’s case. I decided to ignore the message, for two reasons. First, I could not confirm her identity and second, I did not think it wise to discuss such matters on Facebook. Apparently, I’m not the only doctor who has had such encounters.  And I cannot agree more with SH Jain who said in Practicing Medicine in the Age of Facebook (N Engl J Med 2009;361:649-651)

“By creating a new environment for individual and group interaction, social-networking sites also create new challenges for those who work in clinical settings.”

In my post on social media policy, I mentioned the best practices outlined in the social media guidelines of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. In this same guideline, a few examples of fictional cases are given, the first of which is exactly this situation – a patient attempts to friend a doctor on Facebook. Best practice 3 refers to protecting patient privacy.

A patient attempts to “friend” an attending physician on Facebook.  This is almost always inappropriate, unless the doctor-patient relationship has ended.  Even after the doctor-patient relationship has ended, it would be inappropriate to discuss health-related information. (Best Practice 3)

Finally, let me quote from the American Medical Association Policy: Professionalism in the Use of Social Media.

If they interact with patients on the Internet, physicians must maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethical guidelines just, as they would in any other context.


That being said, I would prefer not to be Facebook friends with my patients. Not everyone will agree. In the end, it is a personal decision.


Photo by birgerking Accessed 26 Oct 2011



No Fast Food Please!

As an endocrinologist, I counsel my patients to avoid fast food as much as they can. Patients with diabetes often need to lose weight.  Fast foods have too many calories but too little nutrients – a bad combination! And as you read through the infographic you realize fast food also contains lots of chemicals. 🙁

But what caught my eye in this infographic? That part that looks at the percentage of population that said they eat fast food at least once a week. The top 6 countries are in Asia, with the Philippines in the No. 3 spot at 54%. That’s half the population saying they eat at a fast food at least once a week!

If you see patients with diabetes or those with weight problems in your clinic, please share this infographic.

I’m a parent too. My kids (age 8 and 5) don’t eat at fast foods. How long will this last before peer pressure leads them to the fast food chains? I worry … you should worry too!

Everything You Need to Know About Fast Food