For those physicians thinking of dipping their tools in the blogging waters, these "top-ten nuggets of wisdom on social media" from Kentucky cardiologist-blogger John Mandrola, MD, may be of interest. As may this story, which serves as an important reminder of patient privacy issues:
Years ago, early on in my blogging career, I wrote a post about a patient who presented to the ER with third degree heart block. She was dying before our eyes. As most doctors can attest, emergencies bring out the best in American healthcare. The patient was transferred immediately to the electrophysiology lab where I implanted a permanent pacemaker. She went home the next day alive and well. The teamwork that led to a life being saved made me tingle with delight. Adding to the joy was the fact that emergencies mandate jettisoning BS. You have to act first and check boxes later.
That night I sat down at the computer and celebrated the joy of doctoring with words. Mindful of privacy issues, I changed a number of details of the case (time, age and gender, for instance).
Then came the comment. My heart sank. Despite changing many of the specifics, a commenter thanked me for saving their family member. Though all were happy with the outcome, my attempt to maintain privacy had failed. This lesson has stuck with me.
Previously: Advice for physicians when interacting with patients online, 33Charts’ Bryan Vartabedian talks about physician blogging, How can physicians manage their online persona? KevinMD offers guidance and Physician 2.0: Do doctors risk becoming irrelevant if they ignore social media?