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Friday, May 15, 2015

Navigating the Google Blind Spot

An Emerging Need for Professional Guidelines to Address Patient-Targeted Googling

By Maria J. Baker, Daniel R. George and Gordon L. Kauffman
Journal of General Internal Medicine
Originally published September 17, 2014

Many physicians would agree that seeking information about their patients via Google seems to be an invasion of privacy, violating trust between patients and their healthcare providers. However, it may be viewed as ethically valid, and even warranted under certain circumstances. Although guidelines developed by the American Medical Association and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) provide general guidance on the appropriate use of the Internet, they do not specifically address the crucial issue of whether physicians should ‘google’ their patients, and, if so, under what circumstances. As a result, physicians are left to navigate this “google blind spot” independently, and to decipher on a case-by-case basis where the boundary of professionalism lies with regard to patient-targeted googling.

Two case scenarios illustrate the moral ambiguity present within this “blind spot.”

The entire article is here.