Is medical blogging doomed?


Category : Medical Rants

Saturday marks my 5th year blogaversary. I probably will not blog that day, as I am going out of town to celebrate a happy occasion.

Several blogs have pronounced doom for medical blogging – Medical blogging and the tragedy of the commons and Black Wednesday: A dark day for the medical blogosphere. These two rants could cause sadness and angst. However, I believe they miss the point entirely.

The best blogging still champions ideas. I now need to blog to explore my philosophy on many medical issues. As I have written before, blogging represents the same concept as the soapboxes in Hyde Park.

I occasionally do blog about patients who I have seen, or who have been presented at morning report. I go to significant lengths to mask identification.

My patient presentations focus on important lessons that I have learned, and that I think readers will find interesting. I do not blog about their personal quirks or issues of personal sensitivity.

Medical blogs will continue. I will not stop blogging. We have much to say and discuss.

Common sense must always prevail. One should never blog about a patient in such a way that you would be embarrassed for a colleague or any patient to read your entry.

But ideas are my major impetus for blogging. This blog will continue as an outlet for my ongoing understanding of our health care system, what it means to be an internist, and how we can improve health care.

Thanks for reading.

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Comments (3)

We cannot underestimate the importance of the blogs. I am always surprised at the number of doctors who want to control the flow of information and the debate. Pharma has a vested interest in controlling the debate.

Blogs have changed in the time I have been reading. The writing is sharper. The issues larger, and the depth of knowledge greater. Everything now moves at blog speed.

Let’s hope, those who can no longer blog, are able to return, and those blogs that exist continue their constant improvement.

Steve Lucas

It seems to me that all of this about “patient privacy” is more about shielding incompetent hospital administrators. (Ok, it is redundant to say “incompetent” and “administrators” in most situations – no matter the industry.)

Truthfully, in my mind, if enough anonymizing of information is done, there really is little difference between the average single patient case study and the blog entry about that patient except it is more accessible to the general public. This leads me to believe that this is more about information control than any “privacy” concerns. (Oh, and I have read “case studies.”)

The truth is, for the appropriate patient communities these blogs are 100x more educational than the official sites of WebMD or such. Why? Because people relate to individuals better than they do the so-called patient literature they are given. (Really written in a manner to prevent lawsuits.)

I also strongly believe that it helps dispell the myth of doctor as god. I think that that is something that must go away if you want people to stop insisting on expecting perfection. I belong to two patient communities at the moment, one that is used to doctors not getting it (food allergies) and one that has false expectations of the medical profession (infertility – don’t blog about this).

No one in the food allergy community has the idea that doctors know everything. The good doctors admit they don’t know everything. We (food allergy patients) don’t expect non-allergists / radiologists (aka super paranoid doctors) to always get it, we know, while wishing we didn’t, that the majority of medical professionals will never deal with a patient like us. (Under 1% of the population.)

Now, the infertility community is different. These men and women seem to think that the doctors are going to have the answer. That the doctor and his staff are always going to get it right. Um… doctors and their staffs are human beings just like everyone else. And the science in reproductive medicine is really very new. I sometimes feel like I’m the only person who understood the 30% chance we were given meant that 70% of the time there is failure – and often the doctors have no idea why.

Unfortunately, there are a number of doctors blogging (and practicing) who are affronted when their own fallible human nature is pointed out. They do serve a purpose in showing some naive patients that, guess what, the doctor is just like you except he knows more about medicine. He is an expert in his field just like you may be an expert in your field.

Blogging helps tear down that curtain where the wizard hides and that is a threat to some medical professionals and industries. Personally, I think it helps get people out of the “if he doesn’t get it right or makes a mistake, then he should be sued” mentality.

But, I’ve never related well to people who thought someone else had all the answers.



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