Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Ethics

Facebook friend request from a patient

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 08 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:j5044
  1. Marika Davies, medicolegal adviser, Medical Protection

Marika Davies, a medicolegal adviser, gives advice on some common ethical dilemmas faced by medical students

Dear Marika

On a recent placement in an emergency department, I clerked a patient with a painful ankle and I made conversation with her while she was waiting for an x ray. A couple of days later I received a friend request from her on Facebook, and I thought it would be impolite to decline. Since then we have been messaging often, and she has invited me to meet up in person. Should I agree?

Marika replies

You are right to be cautious. Although you met the patient only once and no longer have a professional relationship with her, you must consider your professional obligations as a medical student and the risks of continuing …

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