The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

The Dark Side of Medical Influencers

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doctors on tiktok

Miranda Schreiber writing for The Walrus:

Physicians, like many of us, have used platforms like Twitter and Instagram since their inception, with 90 percent reporting they used social media to find information related to their patients and practice in 2017, according to a report by market analyst Research2Guidance. Today, lists of the top twenty-five “medical influencers” include accounts of family physicians and doctors who have been endorsed by celebrities and have millions of followers. And, at times, their posts contain jokes involving patient information. A 2020 study by Wasim Ahmed of Newcastle University, which analyzed 348 tweets about living patients, found that nearly 47 percent contained details that would likely make patients identifiable to themselves.


Just look at celebrities like Dr. Drew and Dr. Oz or shows like Dr. 90210 and Botched. Every week, viewers tune in to watch the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients, despite the criticisms these shows have received for exploitative practices. Reality shows like ABC’s NY Med used footage from actual emergency rooms and operating theatres, sometimes filming surgeries without consent from patients. Joel M. Geiderman, an LA emergency physician, told Emergency Medicine News that he knows people who consented to being filmed while stressed and in the emergency department, then regretted the publicization of their medical treatment in the media. So, while the disclosure of medical secrets to the public is not particularly new, technology has made it much easier.

It is bad enough that they are violating patient privacy, but to profit of a patients condition I find a violation of the Hippocratic Oath. Though in a system that is built as commercial for profit enterprise - this hardly a surprise.

We need to deal with the root cause - the existence of medicine as a profit maker. Until we have a single payer system with strong government oversight patient privacy abuse will be rampant.