Friday, 15 July 2011

Only Human

Yesterday guidelines were published for doctors and medical students using social media sites such as Facebook and twitter.

Obviously this matters to me as a blogger and a Twitter addict.

At first I thought it was common sense. Don't "friend" patients on Facebook and don't breech patient confidentiality. This is just an extension of normal day to day life. I wouldn't go down to the pub with a patient for a glass of wine and I certainly wouldn't start talking about Mrs Blogg's incontinence while having a coffee with my friends.

While blogging I've always managed to maintain confidentiality. This is because I mostly talk about myself. This is after all MY blog. I've never been one for writing patient life stories out. Even when I do talk about patients I never discuss a specific patient, but make up a patient to illustrate points I want to discuss about a variety of different people. Because of this I've always been pretty confident that I'm an ethical medical blogger... in fact I wouldn't even class myself as a medical blogger really. Just a blogger who happens to be a doctor.

The new guidance has me both worried and annoyed. 

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know how I have previously felt about "the Twitter police", people who try to reign in everything that's said. I think it stifles creativity and freedom of speech.

The guidance suggests that doctors and med students should not be bringing the profession into disrepute on social media sites. This includes evidence of inebriation as an example. Last time I checked it was legal to have a few drinks and get tipsy. Does this mean when I blog or tweet about having one too many cosmopolitans, or having a stonking hangover I'm a bad doctor? 

Guess what everyone. Doctors are human.

Some drink, some smoke. Deal with it. In fact we even burp, fart and poop. Yes it's true. (In fact if truth be known I can't really burp properly, but I wish I could.)

I think it would do a lot for people writing the guidance to think about the fact that doctors are not some God-like beings. I'm pretty sure most members of the general public would be fine with knowing I have a drink or 4 on weekends when it won't affect my work. Very few would be bothered by the fact I swear when talking to my friends. Nearly all people would understand that I too get frustrated at work and with my colleagues.

In fact who would even believe that doctors weren't all grumpy, alcoholic, miserable gits who do nothing but swear. That's how they're mostly portrayed on TV.

What matters more to people is knowing that I'm well trained, I have a decent support network of more senior doctors to help with my decisions and that I genuinely care for my patients and have their best interests at heart.

BMA stop wasting time with trying to nanny us and make us all "perfect", instead spend your time making sure doctors are given the best tools to do the best for their patients. 

Dr Sunshine xXx   


  1. completely agree. Being a doctor is a profession yes, but still it's practised by normal people! yes we are studious, determined and for the most part passionate about what we're doing. but because of that we need to be able to relax after work, have an outlet for our creativity such as blogging. most of all I think, meidical community should reflect the society it's dealing with. if we behave like gods, people will be less likely to be open and honest with us.

  2. I think you're right when you say the more we act like "Gods" the less people will relate to us, trust us and want to open up to us.

  3. I think you're right when you say the more we act like "Gods" the less people will relate to us, trust us and want to open up to us.

    That comment sounds like it could apply to the BMA.

  4. I've just read this post, and I totally agree. Times and perspectives are changing - it's ok for doctors to be human and have outside lives. The guidelines have worried me a bit though, I wonder if my med school will mention them? Best of luck with induction week too :)

  5. Totally agree, I think those guidelines were just trying to cover the extremes. I'm sure no sane person would object to you letting Twitter know that you've had a few drinks, but posting about being battered the night before work might be an issue. That's common sense obviously, but then again, when did the people who write these guidelines ever assume people had common sense.