Note: This article was originally posted in our August 2016 newsletter, and has not been updated.
Social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs and websites can be effective tools for midwives to connect professionally with clients, colleagues, and the public. However, their highly accessible nature can pose risks to midwives’ professional obligations, including maintaining appropriate boundaries and safeguarding client privacy.
The following are some suggestions for midwives to consider regarding their use of social media:
- Consider whether becoming a friend of a client or following them on social media will blur professional boundaries
- Be conscious of posting photos and posts that may breach client privacy
- Discuss with clients that social media is not an appropriate forum to discuss personal health information, including clinical and time-sensitive matters
- Develop a policy or protocol regarding the use of social media at your practice. You may wish to include provisions regarding the following:
- The goal/purpose for using social media
- Who will be responsible for making posts
- What information is appropriate to post about
- Who is appropriate to friend or follow on social media
- Appropriate security settings
- Guidelines regarding personal social media use
Crossing professional boundaries and/or failing to safeguard client privacy can have serious consequences for midwives. For example, they may be sued in court and/or found to have committed professional misconduct. Therefore, it is recommended that they consider the suggestions noted above and any additional factors relevant to meeting their professional obligations while using social media.
- HIROC Risk Note: Communicating Through Social Media
- Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM) 2014 Webinar on Social Media (available on the Member’s Only webinar archive)
 For more information, see CMO’s Guide on Compliance with Personal Health Information & Protection Act.