There are many obvious pieces of advice. 'Patient confidentiality' is key, personally I have never spoken of anything patient-related that has happened at my place of work on this blog and this is a wise thing to do. 'Facebook friends' - it is clearly unwise to befriend patients on the social media, still, this is a very grey area.
'Defamation' this is a very important thing to bear in mind when on the social media. Defamation relates to 'an unjustified statement about a person or organisation that is considered to harm their reputation ' and is a very subjective thing. Obviously we all have a right to free speech and for something to be deemed 'defamatory' it has to be fairly extreme. A good rule to go by is to pretend that what one writes is being published in a newspaper and if it seems acceptable in this context then it is highly unlikely to be defamatory.
I have looked back through all the ferretfancier's old posts and have found nothing that strays across these lines. I have called Patricia Hewitt an idiot which is perfectly justifiable, I have labelled Liam Donaldon incompetent which is also very justifiable, I have not referred to any specific patient events, I have not been defamatory in my criticism, I have used evidence to prove my points and have not crossed the line into 'unprofessional' behaviour in my opinion.
'Professionalism' is where this all becomes very very tricky indeed. In fact the human rights act makes it very clear that we all have a right to respect for private and family life, and if any public body starts trying to interfere with this then they will be on very very sticky ground indeed:
Right to respect for private and family life
1 Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2 There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."
It is perverse that the people who are endlessly calling for better patient care and 'patient safety' are the very same people who love to right roughshod over the rights of others to express themselves. The more free speech and openess is stifled, the worse the implications for health care and patient safety, as we have seen time and time again that we need an open honest culture to drive progress. A Stasi like system that runs on fear and that kills criticism unfairly with threats works in the very opposite direction to progress.