Your Doctor May Be Stalking You on Facebook & Twitter...and It May Cost You

Does your doctor have the right to throw your posts or Tweets in your face?

In a recent advice column on NBCNews.com, Art Caplan, Ph.D., raises the following question: Is it okay for your doctor to check up on you…on social media?

He highlighted one case where a doctor was this close to recommending a patient be added to a liver transplant list. The patient: a young guy who survived a car accident, a year prior, after a night of heavy partying. He said his drinking days were over. His mother backed him up.

Then, right before this doctor was about to give her consent, she received an email from someone on the transplant team. The email contained a recent photo he tweeted of himself surrounded by booze, drinking a beer.

It’s unknown whether Mr. Drink & Tweet was denied the transplant, but this situation is probably not the first of its kind. What if a patient was begging their doctor for pain pills yet the doctor comes across a Facebook posting of the person lifting weights. Is this person really in physical pain or could they just be trying to score some pills?

I agree with Caplan: The tweeter who needed a new liver should have been called out on his reckless behavior. “You need to realize that information you put up on social media sites may wind up being used by your doctor, hospital, psychologist, school nurse or drug counselor,” says Caplan in the article.

But, I think we can all agree that social media is not the most factual of sources. Be honest -- are you always telling the truth, and nothing but the truth, in your postings? Your life is really all tropical vacations and delicious gourmet meals?

I’ve heard people say that social media is a window into someone’s life, but I say it’s more like a peephole. The truth is -- we all exaggerate at times, or at least purposely omit certain details. I know plenty of people who post flat-out lies. Should somebody be denied treatment because, perhaps, they wanted to show off to their friends?

Caplan’s column is another eye-opening realization about the world of social media. Chances are you’re not hoping for a new organ, but your posts can easily find their way to your boss, to your state’s unemployment department, or to the goofy guy you knew from grammar school who, unbeknownst to you, lists stalking on the top of his list of hobbies.

In other words…be careful what you put out there.

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