A national survey was conducted of the 68 executive directors of all medical and osteopathic boards in the U.S. and its territories. Developed with the input of key informants, the survey focused on reported violations of online professionalism and disciplinary actions taken. The survey responses represented 88 percent of physicians in the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) database with active licenses.
- The majority (92%) of respondents reported that at least one online professionalism violation had ever been reported to their board.
- Inappropriate patient communication online, use of the Internet for inappropriate practice, and misrepresentation of credentials were the three most common reported violations.
- Most often, formal disciplinary hearings were held in response to violations (50%). Additionally, 40 percent of the boards noted issuing consent orders.
Online professionalism will be important to address and discipline as the role of the Internet increases in society.