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Doctors told to say no to Facebook come-ons

The U.K.'s Medicine Defense Union has advised doctors who are propositioned by patients on Facebook to not even say no. Its advice is to ignore every personal message.

An increasing number of people are meeting the loves of their lives, or at least of their months, on Facebook.

However, a consequence of this might be that an increasing number of people think they will encounter love's intrepid arrow by socially networking. It seems, indeed, that some might be making advances toward their psychologists. Or even their proctologists.

The U.K.'s Medical Defense Union, an organization whose goal is to "defend the professional reputations of our members when their clinical performance is called into question," is concerned that some of its members resort to politeness when patients request the pleasure of their company via Facebook.

According to the Telegraph, the MDU believes that doctors have become well aware of the need to be careful about material they post on their Facebook pages.

Wasn't the original purpose of Facebook to find a date? CC Andrew Feinberg/Flickr

But Dr. Emma Cuzner, the MDU's medical-legal adviser recently wrote in the MDU Journal: "Doctors may be less prepared for patients using sites like Facebook to ask them out on a date."

Some doctors apparently feel one ought, at the very least, to politely reply in the negative. However, Cuzner contended: "Given that this is not a professional route of communication, any correspondence of this sort would clearly stray outside the doctor/patient relationship."

But sometimes even the definition of what is professional is open to interpretation.

What if one of your patients happens upon you at the local corner shop and suggests you have coffee? It would hardly be possible to look him or her in the face, say nothing, turn away, and recommence your search for peanut butter and a large tub of Ben & Jerry's Magic Brownies.

So one can perhaps understand a doctor's natural urge to at least politely decline. What if that patient then badmouths them to other patients? What harm can possibly be done by a simple "no, thank you"?

Moreover, the thing about the Web is that if someone wants to find you, if someone wants to contact you, they can and they will. Yes, you can have better privacy controls on your Facebook account. But information tends to take on a freedom that is hard to anticipate and approaches can come in ways that one least suspects.

The MDU's first priority is protection. Yet one can imagine that some doctors, when approached in any kind of public forum, might feel more inclined to reply in that same forum, however politely, just so that it can be clear and known what their reply really was.

Of course, they could always reply by sending a "Which Kind of Drug Are You?" quiz. Or perhaps the even more popular "What Kind of Evil Creature Are You?"

That's the thing about Facebook. It just brings you so many new, fun ways to communicate.