Risks of Being a Physician Blogger

14 May
Trial at the Old Bailey in London - Wiki

Trial at the Old Bailey in London - Wikipedia

I just got through reading a well written article by Bryan Vartabedian, a doctor who writes on his blog 33 Charts. Do check it out! Vartabedian speculates about being sued by a patient and having to defend the comments and writings found on one of the many social media outlets he utilizes. As one commenter put it quite well: “In the end, it’s all about what you have said. As physician bloggers, we need to be prepared to defend or elaborate on anything that we post…”

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I know that things that I write on this blog and twitter can be used against me should I ever be taken to court. I’m not naïve enough to think that they wouldn’t. I do believe that any defense lawyer worth his salt(and the large retainer fee) should be able to shoot down any attacks on my character taken from isolated lines and quotes.

At the same time, I do temper myself somewhat when writing on here and on twitter. I rarely post something right after I’ve written it, preferring to come back to it for a last look-over later that day. This allows me to take a fresh look at my writing after the, sometimes charged, thoughts and emotions that drove the piece have tempered. I think, hope, that this makes me a little more centered and consequentially will give a lot less fodder for a prosecuting lawyer to use.

The original article is found here by the way. To my readers who have a blog and are/will be practicing physicians, has the idea that anything you write can be used against you changed how open you are on your blog? Do you hold back more with this kind of threat in mind? Do you not care very much and instead strive for pure authenticity? I look forward to hearing you views!


Posted by on May 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,

5 responses to “Risks of Being a Physician Blogger

  1. Ryan

    May 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I would love to continue blogging as a physician, but I’ve obviously considered the risks of my writing being used against me.

    However, I think the problem arises with physicians who have poor communication skills and shouldn’t be blogging in the first place.

    If you chose to do primary care, which typically involves developing relationships with patients, I’d assume that the level of communication is pretty thorough. Thus, any patient that regularly sees you is less likely to misinterpret things you write on your blog.

    I think it would be a bigger risk for sub-specialties that typically don’t develop long-term relationships or get to know patients on a personal level, as these patients have no context upon which to read the physicians blog.

  2. Flustered Grad

    May 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I hadn’t considered the differences between the nature of primary care and specialists. Good point!

    • Ryan

      May 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      Just to clarify (oh the irony): I am in no way implying that specialists have poor communication skills. I am arguing, however, that primary care has the greater capacity for physician-patient relationships.

      • Flustered Grad

        May 15, 2011 at 6:57 pm

        Don’t worry! I didn’t take it that way. 😛 I was thinking about the rates at which different specialties get sued by their patients. Primary care, statistically speaking, gets sued the least of them all, while Ob/Gyn or surgery specialties get sued the most.

  3. Rishi

    May 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Great post man! I think that as a med student, writing about your day-to-day experiences doesn’t warrant any fear – after all, are people going to accuse you of “not living properly?” Healthcare has enough frivolous lawsuits as it is. 😉

    Where people get in trouble is with topics which are already opinionated. Take politics, for example. Once I started med school, I removed all the posts I wrote about concerning politics, abortion, gay/lesbian rights, etc. I don’t think patients realize that being a good healer and having opinions which go against the grain are completely separate issues for most physicians, but I’d rather not take the chance.

    In addition, I’m probably the most boring person out there. I don’t drink. I don’t curse. I’m as vanilla as they come with regards to my social activities. Oh, and I smile too much to be a future surgeon. 😀 As long as you’re positive about your profession, mindful of your opinions, and consider that with anything you write, someone will disapprove… you’ll tend to stay under the radar for most patients.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: