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ARC 2014: Physio staff face risk of ‘defamation’ on social media sites

4 March 2014 - 10:04am

Some physiotherapy staff are being placed in ‘challenging and stressful situations’ due to content posted about them on social media sites, delegates at this year’s CSP annual representative conference heard.


Ian Scrace: 'Individuals often at risk on social media platforms because the majority are not moderated.' Photo: Simon Ridgway

Ian Scrase, speaking for south central stewards, called for the CSP to add to its current guidance for members about social media. He asked the society to take into account the potential impact on members of posts made by third parties and provided an example of a recent case that highlighted the issue.

Mr Scrase explained how photos taken by a patient's mother during a treatment session, and a copy of a report written by a physiotherapist, had recently appeared on Facebook.

‘This provided a forum for relatives and friends of the patient and led to misinformed criticism of the physiotherapist’s treatment decisions,’ said Mr Scrase.

‘Individuals are being placed at risk on social media platforms due to the fact that the majority are not moderated – and some of the content posted by third parties could be considered a form of defamation.’

Advice on legal implications

Scottish steward Kay Morrison seconded the motion and said the society’s current guidance was highly commendable but needed to be updated.

She told delegates that some members have experienced online harassment from parents who are seeking further treatment sessions for their children, while others have received criticism on social media sites from other clinicians who have commented on their treatment choices.

‘We are not permitted to post pictures of patients, but what about when it happens the other way around?,’ said Ms Morrison.

‘What are our rights and where do we stand legally?’

The motion, calling for the society’s guidance to be updated to include advice on what members should do if they become victim to third party action on social media sites, was carried.

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