2015 December - Social media and veterinarians

Social media, like Facebook and Twitter is now part of daily life. When used effectively social media can be a great platform to educate, market and inform our clients and a wider audience but great care is needed.

Veterinary practitioners need to exercise extreme care when commenting on social media to ensure they maintain professional standards.  Specifically, they must abide by their obligations under the Veterinary Practitioners Code of Professional Conduct (Code) when placing comments on social media, including but not limited to:

  1. Ensuring the foundation of their comments is a primary concern for the welfare of animals
  2. Ensuring their comments are based on evidence-based science or well-recognised current knowledge and practice or both
  3. Ensuring their comments do not mislead or deceive in such a way as to have an adverse effect on the standing of any veterinary practitioner or the veterinary profession
  4. Ensuring their comments maintain confidentiality of information obtained during the course of their professional practice.

For example, the Board is of the opinion that commenting on the management of a case by a colleague without first obtaining a full understanding of the facts surrounding that case is problematic and may lead to a breach of the Code.

Very clear guidelines should be put in place for the content and use of business social media accounts. Proper informed consent must be obtained to use photographs and to discuss individual cases.

The medical profession has created a guide for doctors and medical students which veterinarians may find useful.