|Tweet Metrics from Symplur of the 2013 SMACC Conference|
Suggestions have been made to run two accounts - If one account is anonymous and the other under a real name, then the user is bound to get them mixed up
This is the user's problem. Many of us have a private and work email. Many of us have a work and private mobile phone number. This is an irrelevant argument.
Why, when patient safety is not an issue?
As recently as last week, I have seen anonymous doctors on twitter giving personal medical advice without so much of a less than 140 character history and without even cursory view of imaging. The lowest common denominator factors into why there is a need for professional guidance documents.
Doctors will feel unable to comment on medicine and medical politics
Anybody is free to comment on medicine and medical politics. If they do not include that they are a doctor in their bio or links on the bio, there is no reason why they cannot continue. It is not essential to be a doctor to comment on medicine or medical politics. Other professionals such as biochemists, scientists, those in the pharmaceutical or medical device industry often know a great deal about medicine without having to be doctors. If one feels a need to state that they are doctor because they want the credibility that comes with that, then they 'should' use their real name.
There are valid reasons to be anonymous
This is something I do agree with. Particularly with whistle blowing and for doctors working in small communities. Additionally, if you want to actively debate controversial emotive topics that can truly put ones safety in danger such as abortion issues, this is also a valid reason. These doctors have good reason to not comply with 'should' and could make good argument to the case. To quote the GMC guidance:-
'You should’ is used when we are providing an explanation of how you will meet the overriding duty. ‘You should’ is also used where the duty or principle will not apply in all situations or circumstances, or where there are factors outside your control that affect whether or how you can follow the guidance.
In conclusion, I think that for most this will end up being just a storm in a teacup. Several commentators are propagating the argument that 1+1=3. The suggestion that doctors who say that they are doctors 'should' (not MUST) use their real name is my opinion perfectly reasonable. As per point 17, "Any material written by authors who represent themselves as doctors is likely to be taken on trust and may reasonable be taken to represent the views of the profession more widely."
The following piece has been published on Croakey on crikey.com.au - strong recommend that you have a look at this as well