Allegation: Medical students “tweeting and blogging patient details”

Filed as News on September 28, 2009 5:07 pm

In the latest potential scandal surrounding the use and misuse of social networks, Switched echoes a report from Fox News (I know) which suggests that medical students are tweeting and blogging confidential patient details.

In a survey (which we all know is a really accurate way of finding out the truth…) Fox News discovered school deans who said they knew of students posting “unprofessional content” online.


Dr. Katherine Chretien of the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center, told Fox News that the real problem is that most medical schools lack guidelines on what’s acceptable for students to post online.

We’ve already seen that a lack of clear guidelines in the workplace can lead to confusion, particularly when employees fail to use common sense and discretion about what’s acceptable to share in a public online space.

One would really hope that medical students had enough sense to know, regardless of what policies may be in place, that it’s unacceptable to publish identifiable confidential information in any place, online or otherwise.

This hope leads me to conclude that the situation has been blown out of proportion, and that most if not all (aspiring) doctors aren’t sharing intimate patient details with the world.

As a commenter, Mark, states — and I’m inclined to agree with:

…When a doctor tweets “Sashay (or whoever) was in my office today and man he had a gross tumor on his face” that’s illegal and downright unethical.

A doctor tweeting “Had a long day, a couple colonoscopies and an ugly tumor removal that exhausted me” is TOTALLY acceptable. Granted we might not want to hear about that stuff but no patient information is revealed and the focus is really on the doctor is worn out.

No-one wants their personal details shared online, but I’m not convinced that this is really happening.

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  1. By Ben posted on September 30, 2009 at 8:55 pm
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    I’ve heard of some people doing this in my medical coding classes. Personally I don’t understand the appeal. It’s a total distraction and totally unethical. I really hope an end is put to this fad.


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