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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : November 17, 2009

Are tweeting surgeons a step too far?

Tweeting is infiltrating even life's most intimate moments, according to recent stories in the press about tweeting toilets and how Twitter is the new after-sex cigarette. And now, even surgeons have their Twitter moments - some while operating.

by Helen Leggatt

That's right. Not only is your surgeon concentrating on removing the correct kidney, he's also focusing on telling anyone who wants to know about it. Surgeons, along with many in the medical profession, are tweeting on the job, usually via nurses present in the operating theater, to anxious relatives and friends about the progress of the surgery and the state of the patient.

Nirvi Shah, of the Miami Herald, recently took an in-depth look at the topic and received a wide range of views from medical professionals.

"At this point, it's really to make those patients, family and friends feel comfortable," said Miami-based Plastic Surgeon Dr. Carlos Wolf. "We don't have a two-way conversation. The most important thing is for me to concentrate on what I'm doing.''

On the other hand, Dr. Erika Schwartz, internist and medical director of Florida-based health insurance firm Cinergy Health, told Shah she is wary of its use. "If it doesn't serve the patient, using it is unacceptable. Sometimes, we all get carried away with the novelty of something."

I'm not sure whether a tweeting surgeon is a good or bad thing. I recently underwent spine surgery and I'd much prefer to think everyone who was present in the operating theater was focusing on me, and just me, but I can also see how it might have eased the nerves of those awaiting the outcome.

Tags: healthcare, medical profession, micro-blogging, social media, tweet, Twitter

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