Release Date: September 30, 2011
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Surgeons should add their voices to social media and online discussions, while taking care to fully understand the potential security and medical-legal implications.
That's the message from two surgeons -- and avid Twitter fans -- in the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, who recently co-authored "Making Social Media Work for Surgeons and Patients," an article published in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons.
The article urges surgeons to participate in online conversations about diseases and patient care -- discussions frequently dominated by lay people and inaccurate information. The UB surgeons also say that social media rapidly expedites and amplifies communication for graduate medical education (GME) and continuing medical education (CME).
"Social media is a great way to leverage the time and research you put into training," says the article's senior author Philip L. Glick, MD, vice chairman and professor in UB's Department of Surgery and professor of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology.
"A surgeon's greatest legacy is his or her trainees," he continues. "And a lot of the training consists of passing on information, lessons learned and wisdom to the next generation. Twitter allows us to dramatically scale up our ability to do this. When I post something on Twitter, all the pediatric surgeons, trainees and colleagues in the country and the world can see it instantly."
One of the article's co-authors is Sani Yamout, MD, a fellow in pediatric surgery at UB, now training under Glick at Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo.
Glick's Twitter handle is @glicklab, and he blogs at "Glickisms on the go" (http://www.glicklab.blogspot.com). His interest in social media partly was influenced by his son, Zack, a cybersecurity specialist and article co-author, as well as by Yamout (@PedSurgZn) who tweets about topics from his blog at http://pedsurgzone.blogspot.com/.
Yamout's blog covers subjects related to pediatric surgery, from dilemmas in patient care and relevant and current topics in the pediatric surgery literature to interesting cases he sees at the hospital. Recent posts range from how to treat a child who is a victim of an accidental household electrocution, to pediatric liver tumors and best ways to avoid complications during surgeries.
Social media allows medical professionals to share information, regardless of geographic boundaries, Glick notes.
And surgery is well-suited to using social media, he adds, because it's highly visual.
"Social media allows us to take digitized audio and video content of procedures, edit it into pieces that have some teaching value and share it," he says.
Glick acknowledges that many medical professionals are uneasy about using social media because of possible legal implications. He stresses that only with significant foresight and robust institutional guidelines should any medical professional use social media to communicate with patients. Organizations like the American College of Surgeons and the American Medical Association are currently developing guidelines on the responsible use of social media with patients, Glick notes.
Co-authors with Glick and Yamout are Zack A. Glick, web developer for the City of Syracuse and the Syracuse school district; D. Scott Lind, MD, Jarrell Distinguished Professor, Georgia Health Sciences University; and Rebekah A.Z. Monson, senior attorney, Pepper Hamilton, LLP.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.