Black Wednesday: A dark day for the medical blogosphere

Grim news pervades the medical blogosphere today.

Fat Doctor has announced she is shutting down her blog:

Someone in my department printed out my blog and showed it to my boss. He tells me he didn’t read it and won’t interfere in what I do with my own time as long as I do a good job at work.

Flea’s blog mysteriously vanished. Perhaps not coincidentally, he is in the midst of a malpractice trial.

Last year, Barbados Butterfly was forced to shut her blog after her hospital found out:

Australian Medical Association president Dr Mukesh Haikerwal was surprised by the story and warned of the dangers of attempting to “de-identify” information. “There’s more to it than just rubbing out the name,” he said.

These episodes, however sad, should come as little surprise. Traditionally, medicine is one of the last adopters of technology. Witness the slow, painful introduction of EHRs. With blogs being at the forefront of the Web 2.0 advance, traditional medical institutions are again slow to adapt to the openness that defines the heart of the blogosphere.

Major media has recently viewed health care blogging with a somewhat critical eye. Earlier this year, the Detroit Free Press wrote a significant article on physician blogs. However, the focus of the piece was the concern about patient privacy. Yesterday, the USA Today also offered a look at health blogs, saying that it also “raises questions” about patient privacy.

Traditional medical institutions are either ignorant of, or not ready for, the blogging physician or the blogging health professional. Paul Levy, CEO of BI-Deaconness in Boston, admits that some of the competing hospitals view his blog with hostility. And what they don’t know, they’ll try to eliminate. The forced closure of the aforementioned anonymous physician blogs certainly will not encourage more physicians to join the blogosphere.

Until the medical establishment can join the 21st century and accept that blogs are here to stay, growth of the medical blogosphere will be limited. It may take awhile.

Update –
A roundup of reaction: Demise of the medical blogosphere?