Should doctors use their real names on social media?

Generally speaking, news editors rarely accept for publication any letters to the editor that are submitted anonymously. To do so would merely encourage the trolls to spew forth.  Discouraging anonymity is a good thing, I believe, because the jerk-to-normal person ratio out there is already perilously high even without encouragement. For example, the Toronto Star – unless agreeing to specific requests to protect confidentiality for valid reasons –  is just one of many that advise readers:

“Letters to the editor must include the writer’s full name – anonymous letters and letters written under pseudonyms will not be considered. For verification purposes, they must also include the writer’s home address, e-mail address and telephone numbers. Writers should disclose any personal or financial interest in the subject matter of their letters.”

And imagine what would happen if The Star or other media outlets let us just willy-nilly vent publicly under fake names whenever we like.

Oh. Wait a minute. That’s already allowed, and it’s called social media.   Continue reading

Doctors behaving badly online

And here we go again. Yet another warning to doctors who decide they really must wade into social media. This warning is for those doctors who have learned nothing from the cautionary tale of 48-year old E.R. physician Dr. Alexandra Thran. She learned a hard lesson last year about the consequences of behaving badly online after she was fired from her Rhode Island hospital, fined and reprimanded by the state medical board.

Why? Dr. Thran had posted personal information online about one of her trauma patients. Although her Facebook post did not specifically include the patient’s name, she violated the patient’s privacy rights by writing enough that others in the community could easily identify the patient, according to a board filing.  Continue reading