29 July 2008
MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS NOT ALWAYS PROFESSIONAL WHEN BLOGGING
Four scholars at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia recently published an article in the online Journal of General Internal Medicine, Content of Weblogs Written by Health Professionals. They identified 271 blogs with medical content apparently written by doctors or nurses and reviewed five entries per blog from 2006 to see how often blog authors commented about patients, violated patient privacy, or displayed a lack of professionalism. Over half the authors provided enough information to show who they were. Nearly half described individual patients (16 percent positively and 18 percent negatively). Less than one-fifth of them included enough information for patients to identify themselves and three blogs had recognizable photographs of patients.
The investigators concluded that “Blogs are a growing part of the public face of the health professions. They offer physicians and nurses the opportunity to share their narratives. They also risk revealing confidential information or, in their tone or content, risk reflecting poorly on the blog authors and their professions. The health professions should assume some responsibility for helping authors and readers negotiate these challenges.”