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Ethical rules to follow: Website


The Conseil National de l’Ordre des Médecins defines what is allowed regarding websites development in its report of 22 May 2008. Here are selected highlights:

«To present his personal activity, a doctor may have a website accessible through a portal or an institution. He can also develop own site alone or in association. Whatever is the choice, the doctor is to observe certain rules: the site is intended to inform the public about the doctor and his activity, and can also provide information related to health in general. It should not be the means of promotion or advertising. The address of this personal website can be indicated on the header of orders and mailings»

It is understandable that each physician want to make its site a personalized one, a certain restraint is still required. This layout should not appear as promotional, commercial or advertising

Doctor’s Presentation:
A doctor besides his professional identity (name, date of birth, registration number and the table RPPS) is to indicate:
– His situation with regard to the Convention,
– His main fees,
– His AGM membership
– The conditions for making estimates as required by the discipline regulations.

There may also be included:
– ID photo
– His titles and professional qualifications and membership of a scientific society
– His works and scientific publications with indication of bodies that accepted them with references to conflicts of interest if any
– The languages he speaks
– His honors recognized by the French Republic
– The elective functions of any kind, past or present, are prohibited

Presentation of the place of business:
– Allowed for mentioning: address, phone, fax, email address (preceded by a warning if no privacy).
– The map of the area, transportation to access the cabinet, ease of access (disabled, lift, parking) can be indicated as well
– Days and hours of consultation and visit.
– Must obligatory include the means of response in case emergency and permanent care (doctor on call, his local organization, the reference to 15)
– The holiday dates, information about his replacement, a collaborator or reference to one or more colleagues can be specified.

In the event of exercising activities in different locations, the doctor is allowed to mention on its website other addresses where he is licensed to practice in accordance with art. 85 CDM, as well as address of the institution where interventions or investigations are performed.

Description of the nature of the actions and techniques made by the doctor may result in displaying information sheets preceding, accompanying or following the information provided by the doctor during the consultation. They can be illustrated in diagrams. But the publication of photos, even anonymous, or iconography “before and after” could cause confusion between obligations for informing and obligations for results. The National Council also considers that this publication may include some drifts of advertising type for an uninformed public. Similarly, disclosing of individual circumstances, under the guise of “clinical case” is strictly prohibited.
Acts and technics description in technical data sheets should contain the scientific references or sources these records are taken from. These sheets are considered to be information related to health for the public. Thus this information is to be clear, understandable, fair, appropriate and consistent with the data acquired from science.
There should be specified the existence of a computerized personal data processing in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

Contact :
It is often that a contact icon is displayed on a website.
In this case, the opening shall be limited to making appointments, the doctor undertakes thereby to send a confirmation response. An automated response confirmation must be provided if the patient registers himself on the free areas of an online calendar. Masking appointments already chosen by other users must be absolute. For safety reasons, the agenda configuration must be strictly limited for making appointments (name, telephone number) and may not contain language area for symptoms describing or any other reason. An associated perfectly legible advertisement should indicate the phone contact possible in the event of urgent situation or of the patient being confused. This agenda is displayed only available in the dates and hours. In the event of doctor’s absence, a message should be sent to the patient in response to contact demand in case of emergency.
If doctor’s public email address is indicated on the site, a statement of box opening frequency must be displayed.

For report downloading, click here.

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