Will we see fewer blogging doctors and nurses?

The Globe reports that a local pediatrician sued for wrongful death agreed to settle the case for a hefty amount after the opposing lawyer got him to admit he was the local blogger making fun of the plaintiff's case and claiming jurors were falling asleep. Dr. Robert Lindeman also deleted all the posts on his blog, although if you hurry, you can still see at least some of his pre-trial musings, thanks to Google's cache (Technorati will give you a taste of his trial posts).

This is at least the third time this year a local practitioner has gotten into hot water over a blog. In March, Dr. Sam Blackman took down a post on his Blog, MD in which he expressed his feelings on finding a live Webcam in the room of a patient vomiting blood. And, also in March, Betsy Baumgartner, a nurse at an unidentified local teaching hospital, deleted a post on her Nurse at Small about her feelings on the way the elderly are treated. In the post, she discussed a specific case.

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    Comments

    Old Rules, No Excuses

    By on

    These incidents were not the result of a new phenomenon - they were the result of ignorance, or of the belief that old rules don't apply to blogging.

    Which old rules?

    Patient confidentiality, for one. I used to extract data from confidential patient files that included medical records of some very famous and powerful people. Even my husband doesn't know who's "secrets" I learned, and it will stay that way.

    You simply don't talk about confidential patient information, even if you think you have anonymized it. Every epidemioligist gets that drilled in - why don't front line medical folk understand that? People who blab this stuff on blogs make life immensely difficult for researchers to get even suffiently anoymized data for health studies!

    Flea made a major mistake (other than missing type I diabetes!) - you do not talk about a trial during a trial. Period. I'm not sure if it is a legal injunction, but it is certainly a common-sense practical maneuver. That blog could have been gotten to by any one of those jurors and could have triggered a mistrial in some jurisdictions. In any case, his running his keyboard resulted in a very disadvantageous situation for him.

    If he felt he needed to vent, he should have logged those blogs until the trial was over and not put them out in public. Then he could review and publish what he wished AFTER it was all over.

    Old rule, new medium, old consequences.

    On anonymous blogging

    By on

    The Outraged Blogger, who blogs anonymously, discusses the Flea case:

    The issue is not anonymous blogging. It is arrogance, hubris, stupidity and a whole bunch of other words like that.

    To blog anonymously about your work, especially when it is in a field where privacy and confidentiality are paramount, is overwhelmingly arrogant. It is about taking cheap shots, as Lindeman did, swatting at the "fleas" who make your life miserable on a daily basis.

    Anybody who's old enough and/or competent enough

    By on

    to go on Jury Duty and/or serve on a trial should know enough to and listen to warnings to not discuss the case at all, with anybody. The guy who got unmasked and found out kind of had it coming to him, imo.