Demise of the medical blogosphere?

Some reactions to yesterday’s dark day.

Stranger than you can imagine:
“I have been thinking about medical blogs since Flea deleted his. Fat Doctor has deleted hers too, and unfortunately I don’t think we will see their blogs reappear. I think the risks are too high. I think that all of the medical bloggers are going to disappear or go private in a month or less. I have no doubt that there are lawyers right now, trying to figure out who various medical bloggers are and who their patients are, so they can file suit against the doctors for “privacy violations” and then “settle” instead of going to trial. (aka as “legal extortion” (to non-lawyers)). Settling for $10k, $30k, even $50k, is much cheaper than going to trial for $200k.

Once that becomes common (i.e. happens even once) we will see US medical blogs disappear. It will be a shame when that happens.” (via Dr. RW)

Doctor Anonymous:
“There are some out there who say that it’s only a matter of time until the entire medical blogosphere fades away. “The lawyers are picking you off, one by one,” someone sent me in an e-mail today. In my heart, I think that our community too strong to allow that to happen.”

“From what I can tell, the content of these “major media” pieces is not dissimilar to that on medical blogs””these authors critique the profession, provide commentary about the practice of medicine, and share patient stories. So what is it about writing online in independent blogs that differs from writing in major media? Have hospital administrators frowned upon Jerome Groopman for criticizing the thought processes of physicians? Did the chair of the neurosurgery department chide Sanjay Gupta for the opinions he provides on television? I imagine that the medical centers that employ these published physicians are rather proud that they are affiliated with these writers. However, no-name””nay, anonymous!””physicians who write online are somehow more threatening to institutions.”

Rita Schawb:
“Insightful, well-written medical blogs are falling victim to corporate paranoia and jealous co-workers. At a time when transparency in healthcare is being touted by the industry as a positive and inevitable response to the public’s desire for safer care, it is truly a shame that eloquent voices are being silenced.”

“Patient privacy is a major deal, and rightly. But physicians have a long history of anonymizing patients in journal publications, and perhaps with more relevance, in the physicians long history of non-fiction publication.

There must be a way to extend such to the blogosphere.”

Highlight HEALTH:
“The problem I see is that these two issues are counter to one another. If readers expect doctors to fictionalize patient information for privacy concerns, how then can they expect to trust the medical information in those blogs?”

Val Jones:
“I have never blogged anonymously – and I recognize that anything I post can be read by anyone, anytime, anywhere. This knowledge has resulted in extreme caution in posting information that could even remotely be linked to a real patient. And yes, I have also refrained from blogging about issues and events that I sure would have liked to because of the associated risks.”