- I know I am not truly an anonymous blogger - no one is.
- I know I need to protect people's privacy and am committed to doing so.
- But I also know that STORY MATTERS. Ultimately, for me, story is the whole POINT of writing, and, arguably, the very way in which we define ourselves and forge our connections with one another - even in medicine, where taking a good history, learning a patient's story, is one of the most important steps in the healing process.
The authors of the article "Online medical blogging: don't do it!" (published in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association) assert, "Telling personal stories about individual patients poses the risk of eroding the public's trust in the particular physician involved, as well as in the relevant department, hospital and university, and in physicians in general." What a limited and limiting understanding of the powerful positive role writing about one's experiences can play in medicine. So many visitors who have been kind enough to leave comments here on this blog have described just the opposite phenomenon: an increased trust in, and understanding of, physicians due in part to a particular story related here. Who better than the surgeon himself to describe what it's like to be feel almost inexpressible sorrow over an outcome, or to convey, as this surgeon did, the momentary intimacy of an office visit in which compassion for a patient's physical and emotional lesions, and the willingness to become part of another's story, transform a mere "encounter" into something much greater?
To the authors of that journal article, I must say that perhaps five or ten years ago a discussion of whether or not doctors should blog might have made sense, but considering the plethora of truly remarkable, valuable, fruitful, and praiseworthy blogs out there by now - open your eyes and take a look, please - I think the horse has left the barn.
I'd like to thank Melissa Healy of the L.A. times for featuring Notes of an Anesthesioboist on today's roundup of "Medical Blogs For Doctors and Patients Alike."
Other medical blogs included on her list were
Emergiblog - "The Life and & Times of an ER Nurse"
GruntDoc by former Marine infantryman and physician Allen Roberts, an ER doc in Fort Worth
Blogborygmi by Dr. Nicholas Genes, an ER doc from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York
Edwinleap.com - "husband, father, physician, writer"
DB’s Medical Rants maintained by Dr. Robert M. Centor, an internist at the University of Alabama School of Medicine
Dr. Val and the Voice of Reason
Kevin, M.D. by Nashua, N.H., internist Kevin Pho
California Medicine Man, by Dr. John S. Ford, assistant UCLA professor and an internist at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
Fingers and Tubes in Every Orifice.
Mothers in medicine
Musings of a Distractible Mind by Dr. Rob, a primary care physician in the Southeastern U.S.
Clinical Cases and Images
Medical Jokes, Cartoons, Videos
Placebo Journal Blog -"Medical Humor With a Purpose," by family practitioner Dr. Douglas Farrago of Auburn, Maine. (Thanks to you, Dr. Farrago, my husband will never look at a cast iron stove the same way again...)
Addendum August 25, 2008:
Here's an article on the website of the American Medical Association on physician blogs: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2008/09/01/prca0901.htm#1 . There seems to be an underlying assumption about what blogs should be - tools for dissemination of information by "professionals" with proper "citations" only, whereas blogs are clearly different things to different writers, including journals, art exhibits, family albums, etc. The genre is fluid and undefined; it can be personal, not professional. Not all physicians who write blogs are writing in their professional capacity as physicians. I think Dr. Rob stated it brilliantly: "Physician blogs should not be seen as an attempt to replace other sources of information, but instead as a new kind of medium -- a view into the minds of the rank-and-file members of medicine."
And via KevinMD on August 26, 2008:
Here's another site that expresses my view pretty well, which is that in this country that glorifies the First Amendmet, my right to write whatever I want should be respected, not abrogated: http://www.medrants.com/index.php/archives/3718
More links on the subject here - specifically, on the story of a Scottish doctor suspended for something he wrote on a doctors-only blog forum - found on September 2, 2008: http://thebrownstuff.blogspot.com/2008/08/story-here.html