Can I change my mind about docs on social media?

As regular readers already know, I’ve told some embarrassingly cringe-worthy tales about how some health care professionals are using social media (here, here and here, for example).  In Doctors Behaving Badly Online, I cited studies by Washington, DC researcher Dr. Katherine Chretien and her findings of physicians’ unprofessional” posts on Twitter featuring “very naughty words, potential violations of patients’ privacy, and discriminatory statements.”

Two years ago, when the British Medical Association warned U.K. docs and med students NOT to make “informal, personal or derogatory comments” online about their patients, I became even more alarmed. Why, I wondered at the time, is it even necessary to issue this warning to intelligent, educated brainiacs with the letters MD (or rather, in the U.K., the letters MBBS) after their names?

There are still regrettable cases coming to light about Doctors Behaving Badly Online, but lately, I’ve been rethinking my former suspicion that many health care providers simply have no business wading into social media. And the reason for the rethink is this: physicians are, in essence, abdicating their role as our medical educators. Continue reading

Four reasons we won’t miss Oprah

As you know (unless you’ve been living under a rock with no access to cable for the past year), Oprah Winfrey has recently retired from her daily talk show after 25 years on the air. I was an off-and-on viewer for decades, like many of you. But her departure may leave some doctors  rejoicing. Why? Because, according to physician Dr. Jen Gunter:

“Oprah is the Supreme Empress of medical woo, disseminating the greatest combination of medical mumbo jumbo and snake oil the world has ever seen.”   Continue reading

Why Oprah is not your doctor

Live Your Best Life Ever! Wish Away Cancer! Get A Lunchtime Face-Lift! Eradicate Autism!  Turn Back The Clock!  Thin Your Thighs!  Cure Menopause!  Harness Positive Energy!  Erase Wrinkles!  Banish Obesity! 

Yes, dear little nags-in-training, you can apparently learn how to perform all these miracles just by watching Oprah every day on TV.

In June, Newsweek magazine ran a revealing Oprah overview by Weston Kosova and Pat Wingert called “Why Health Advice on Oprah Could Make You Sick”.

Their observations focused on Oprah guests whose quasi-medical theories – proven or not – the influential talk show host has decided to endorse. One such celebrity guest is of course the age-denying Suzanne Somers, weighing in on the debate about hormone replacement for menopausal women. The Newsweek piece said:

“Outside Oprah’s world, there isn’t a raging debate about replacing hormones. Women just don’t need as much once they get past their childbearing years. Unless a woman has significant discomfort from hot flashes—and most women don’t—there is little reason to prescribe them. Most women don’t use them. Hormone therapy can increase a woman’s risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and cancer.

And despite Somers’ claim that her specially made, non-FDA-approved bio-identicals are ‘natural’ and safer, they are actually synthetic, just like conventional hormones and FDA-approved bio-identicals from pharmacies.  There are no conclusive clinical studies showing hers are less risky. That’s why endocrinologists advise that women take the smallest dose that alleviates symptoms, and use them only as long as they’re needed.” Continue reading