Ethics & law
Facebook friend request from a patient
Marika Davies, a medicolegal adviser, gives advice on some common ethical dilemmas faced by medical students
You are right to be cautious. Although you met the patient only once and no longer have a professional relationship with her, you must consider your professional obligations as a medical student and the risks of continuing this relationship.
As a doctor, you need to maintain boundaries between your professional and personal lives. You are in a privileged position as a medical student, and to engage in a personal relationship with a patient could be seen as an abuse of the trust that patients place in those caring for them. The public must be able to trust that their care is your first concern, and that you will not use your professional interactions as an opportunity to pursue a personal relationship.
The General Medical Council says that, as a medical student, your studies will bring you into contact with patients and members of the public, who can be physically and