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Doctors Twitter During Surgery?!?

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Doctors used social-networking site Twitter to give updates about the procedure.
doctor using cell phone to twitter

It's 7 AM and you're on the table in the operating room. Your doctor pulls out his laptop and Twitters: "Patient is counting backwards from 10 and is now under!"

That's what's happening in the surgery rooms at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Last week, for the second known time, surgeons Twittered a surgery by using social-networking site Twitter to give short real-time updates about the procedure.

What's interesting is that Henry Ford Hospital is a teaching hospital, so the docs there feel the benefit of Twittering a surgery far outweighs the negatives. Not only do fellow doctors follow the Twitters, but so do medical students and family members.

Christopher Parks, co-founder of the website changehealthcare.com, says, "Doing this removes a real communication barrier. It helps make something scary much more comprehendable." In addition, he says, "It also brings us closer together and makes us more engaged."

Twitter users who followed the surgery got to share some medical drama in real time. Family members got to to follow every single step of the surgery and feel like they were in the room with their loved one -- which doctors say helped alleviate undue stress.

How do you feel about doctors Twittering during surgery? Would you sign off for your surgery to be tweeted?


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8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Pamala February 17, 2009, 3:12 PM

I doubt the actual doctor is doing the twittering rather a nurse or someone assigned to do it. And frankly I think it’s great because like it says there is a communication barrier sometimes and if a family can follow the surgery and know everything is going well then more power to them.

dizzymum February 17, 2009, 3:27 PM

As long as there is someone else doing the twittering, I think it rocks. Especially if family and friends can follow what’s going on. Most people have had at least one nerve-wracking experience waiting for loved ones to come out of surgery. The only thing is it would be traumatic happened during the surgery … could be even worse for family then. And would it push cost up because of needing someone to tweet?

Joyce February 17, 2009, 11:02 PM

I’ve been in surgery that I needed to be awake for. The attendants were looking up songs online for the doctor while he was working on me.

I was thinking seriously? are you actually paying attention to me?

Bec Thomas February 17, 2009, 11:34 PM

I think if they have permission from the patient to do this than more power to them, I’m not sure if I’d want it done, I’d really have to think on it.

Rob B. February 18, 2009, 10:01 AM

Interesting concept and I agree it could be helpful, but like the commenter dizzymum I also have a concern about what happens when the surgery does not go well. What if the patient dies? If it was someone I cared about, I really would not want to found how they died in tweet on Twitter.

Rachel February 18, 2009, 3:05 PM

It’s amazing what they do in OR’s. haha I have a best friend who is a scrub nurse and she has told me some pretty HILARIOUS stories…

I think as long as someone else is doing the twittering, more power to ya! It’s defniitley cool that fmaily/friends can know what’s going on in there!

Loseruwc June 23, 2009, 8:29 AM

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Jeanie July 13, 2009, 8:25 AM

I have been a surgical nurse for about 7 years and I and many of my colleagues are apprehensive about using twitter in surgery. The staff needs to focus on the patient and not be distracted. Also, there is always potential for unexpected events in surgery, do you twitter during an emergency? Won’t the family become anxious if the OR is suddenly silent?


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