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Why Social Media Should Stay Out of the Operating Room

Social Media and Plastic SurgeryMy office has had a lot of fun embracing social media. And, it has been educational, informative and fun for our patients as well. I say this because I am about to suggest a limit on social media as it applies to plastic surgery. Put simply: social media should stay out of the operating room.

Recently I read a story about a plastic surgeon who, with the permission of the patient, was using Facebook, Twitter Instagram and Vine to essentially live-broadcast an operation. The goal, according to the plastic surgeon and her staff (who were doing the tweets and posts), was to inform and educate the public. I’m not so sure that I buy the purported motivation here. To me it sounds a bit more like trying to make a splash with reality TV. The goal, I believe, was to bring more attention to the plastic surgeon than to the surgery itself.

In an interview with this plastic surgeon, the decision was a bit of a spur of the moment thing. The patient (who was a nurse) was contacted the night before and asked to consent to this. Personally, a decision to have an operation on your face broadcasted all over the internet should have been given a bit more time.

There is probably no place I am more comfortable than in the operating room as far as my professional life is concerned. However, the act of operating on someone is extremely different from anything else in my life. It requires focus, dedication, and my complete attention. To be sure, the most important person in a surgeon’s life while they are operating is the patient they are operating on.

None of us should knowingly invite distractions into the operating room. Of course, the surgeon in question was not personally tweeting or posting things. But she was certainly directing what was being broadcasted. And it was probably a distraction to the operating room staff who should be focused solely on the operation and the patient.

Social media is great. It allows a lot of conversation, education, and to a degree, entertainment. This is true of plastic surgery as much as anything else. However, as far as I’m concerned, my posts will only be made before and after an operation, not in the operating room.

All the best,
Dr. David B. Reath

 

 

David B. Reath, MD

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