Thursday, July 7, 2011

An Anonymous Doctor Tweets About An Anonymous Patient

I am late to the discussion about a recent interaction between two doctors online. To summarize, the first doctor blogged about a second anonymous doctor for being unprofessional on Twitter.   This launched a massive debate about doctors' presence online.  Ultimately, the anonymous doctor deleted the Twitter account and the first doctor closed the comments section of the post.

After catching up on must-read blogposts from:





I've come to the conclusion about the importance of anonymity for some doctors online.   Even President Obama states, "I just miss — I miss being anonymous," after he won the presidential election.

Physicians are held to a high standard.  But, frequently we cannot meet that standard because we remain human. We dispense health tips and advice to patients, while failing to care for ourselves.  These societal and self-induced pressures may actually lead to higher suicide rates and drug/alcohol abuse in doctors.

In a Utweetpia, all doctors could proudly publish their names online and freely vent-rant-educate-entertain-share online.  But there is too much to lose if a post/tweet becomes viral or #trends.  As long as patients cannot be identified, I believe that anonymous doctors should be allowed their freedom of speech and appreciated for their transparency into the medical world.

BUT it is extremely difficult to be truly anonymous online.

From the BlogHerald:

"True anonymous blogging requires that you ensure there is no connection between your real identity and the site as well as no direct connection or traceable connection between your network/your computer and your blog’s server.
To be clear, there are ways to do this and many great guides have been written on this subject, including an official one by the EFF and one on TechSoup.
However, especially for someone new at using these tools, the process is intimidating and the since perfection is required to be completely safe, it’s virtually guaranteed that there will be a break in the protection."

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