Health ministry to review doctors' code of conduct after social media faux pas

The Health Ministry is looking at amending regulations governing doctor-patient confidentiality. — File pic
The Health Ministry is looking at amending regulations governing doctor-patient confidentiality. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — The Health Ministry is looking at amending regulations governing doctor-patient confidentiality over social media postings by medical practitioners.

Director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Medical Act 1971, which regulates medical practice including patient confidentiality, was outdated and had to be fined-tuned.

"The issue has always been there and doctors need to protect the confidentiality of patients.

"Social media is new and there are no provisions concerning this subject in the Act. 

"We have taken action in all cases related to this matter and view the seriously," he said after the GP Conference and Scientific Meeting.

His comments come following recent controversies involving two doctors who had posted information and pictures of their patients on social media.

On June 3, a doctor at a hospital in Kuala Terengganu posted details and commented on Facebook about a patient who sustained a third degree tear when she gave birth at home. The doctor suggested using “lidi” sticks and glue to stitch the wound and mocked the patient's decision to opt for a home birth.

On Aug 24, a picture of a doctor taking a selfie in a labour room that included the patient’s private parts caused an uproar. The incident was reported to have taken place at a government hospital in Johor Baru.

Dr Noor Hisham, who is also Malaysian Medical Council president, said the council would standardise regulations, rulings and code of practice with that of its counterparts abroad.

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