MDO warning on Israel-Palestine statements

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Over the past month, multiple doctors say they have been reported to the regulator over public comments on the war in Gaza and Israel.

Medical indemnity insurer Avant has advised members against posting or reposting social media content related to the war in Israel and Palestine that could “reflect poorly” on their role as a doctor and on the occupation more broadly. 

Avant also warned against displaying any physical posters or statements about the war in a medical practice that could be “misconstrued” by patients or cause them distress.  

It comes after multiple accounts of doctors being reported to AHPRA for sharing statements on social media relating to the conflict.  

In an open letter to the AMA, AHPRA and the Health Care Complaints Commission in October, a group of Australian and New Zealand doctors said they felt a duty, as doctors, to “accept a share of the profession’s responsibility to society in matters relating to health and safety of the public” and “maintain the utmost respect for human life”. 

Multiple co-signatories to that letter said they had been threatened with an AHPRA notification by colleagues over social media.  

“These behaviours are in violation of AHPRA’s policy on social media which outlines the need to communicate professionally and respectfully with or about patients, colleagues, and employers,” the letter said.  

The Medical Board code of conduct, which sets out the expected professional standard of practice, acknowledges that doctors have a right to express their personal views but notes that the boundary between a doctor’s personal and public profile can be “blurred”.  

“As a doctor, you need to consider the effect of your public comments and your actions outside work, including online, related to medical and clinical issues, and how they reflect on your role as a doctor and on the reputation of the profession,” the code reads.  

It also outlines good medical practices as involving culturally safe and respectful care, which includes “being aware of your own culture and beliefs and respectful of the beliefs and cultures of others”. 

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