Healthcare professionals issue privacy warning over ‘how hot is my doc’ social media posts

Patients have been criticised for taking photos of good-looking doctors during medical appointments and posting the images online.

Social media posts commenting “how hot is my doc” are being shared without the consent of healthcare professionals and undermine their privacy, the British Medical Association (BMA) annual meeting heard.

Delegates voted in favour of a motion condemning patients for sharing recordings of private appointments online and called on the BMA “to lobby for sanctions against patients who breach their doctors’ privacy”.

Dr Zoe Greaves, who proposed the motion, said: “There have been recent reports of patients posting videos or photographs of their doctors online and on social media without their doctors’ consent.”

While these most commonly include baby scan images and those showing a child’s first GP appointment some “are far more insidious”, she told delegates at the meeting in Brighton.

“These can range from terrible appointments, to people posting to share ‘how hot is their doc’,” she said.

“And for each of these, private consultations are opened up to public comment and critique, and the individual’s privacy is undermined.”

Patients are allowed to record consultations for medical purposes and Dr Greaves said they can act as a “valuable aid memoir”, helping people better understand their diagnosis.

But the trainee GP told delegates: “This isn’t about patients using recordings for medical purposes, this is about social media being used to violate the privacy of individuals and it is not acceptable.”

She said that friends had found themselves the subject of “how hot is my doc” posts on Twitter and stressed that patients had a responsibility to respect doctors’ privacy.

“If we are to recognise patients’ rights to make recordings for their own private use, then there must be recognised responsibilities alongside that right,” she said.

“The responsibility to respect that doctors privacy and not expose them to public comment or ridicule, simply for doing their job.”

Dr John Chisholm, chair of the medical ethics committee, told delegates that legal advice indicates doctors could take legal action to seek to prevent or remove publication.

However in practice this would be difficult to pursue in UK courts, he said.

A BMA spokeswoman said: “The BMA recognises that there are certain circumstances in which it may be beneficial for some patients to make recordings of their consultations for private use.

“In such cases there is a reasonable expectation of doctors’ privacy in respect to their engagement with patients who should seek consent before recording.

“Should a patient publish audio or video recordings without consent, they may be at risk of unlawfully misusing the doctor’s private information.

“Greater support and legal protection should therefore be afforded to doctors given the significant difficulties that may face in trying to prevent publication or remove published material.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Lauren Hurley / PA Wire.