How would you feel about your surgical team Tweeting during your operation?

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And why are so many stories so unquestioning about these runaway surgical Twitter practices? Just look at this frame grab from a Google search showing all the stories (so far) on one hospital team’s surgical Twitter exploits. One story stated:

“Senior hand fellows…when not actively involved in the surgery, sat at a laptop just outside the operating suite and tweeted real-time updates during the procedure, according to a hospital press release. According to the Twitter feed, expert teams of hand surgeons rotated in and out of the operating room throughout the surgery.”

Oh, phew, their hands were tweeting when their hands were not operating! I might rather that my surgeons – even when not actively involved in the operation and when rotating out of the OR – would just rest their digits and not flex them digitally. But what an old-fashioned guy I am.

hand xplant twittering.jpg

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Elaine Schattner, M.D.

August 25, 2010 at 10:13 pm

I would worry, extra, if my surgeon used Twitter while I was in the OR, opened up, under anesthesia and under her care.
(It seems like a very bad idea, common sense and outcome-wise.)

Jennifer Brokaw

August 25, 2010 at 10:58 pm

We’re in the Twitter era. It’s only going to get worse. Digital distractions are going to continue to detract from patient care, while the broadband information era will improve it. Tough balance.

Michael Kirsch, M.D.

August 30, 2010 at 8:06 am

Sounds like it’s for the birds. Who knows? Maybe the keyboard activity strengthens digital muscles and promotes hand-eye coordination. In other words, we should consider this to be actual surgical training.

Damian M.

August 31, 2010 at 8:33 am

Not surprised at all! But why Twitter…wouldn’t Facebook or any other social community be better, for so-called, surgical training. There are only 140 characters you can use in Twitter.

Rick Evans

September 1, 2010 at 7:10 am

I would doubly worry that after twittering during my surgery he would t-bone my Toyota with his Caddy Escalade as he tweeted while running a red light. If he can’t stay focused on something as critical as surgery what else can he focus on.

Arnon Krongrad, MD

September 9, 2010 at 7:15 pm

It’s not likely this was about surgical training. For that you can use closed circuit, video, and other, better devices. Much more likely this was initiated by the hospital marketing department, who can bring about all sorts of innovative ideas: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304703104575173952145907526.html FYI, this story was also subject of a Psychology Today post: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/scrub-rinse-repeat/201009/scalpel-suction-tweet