Hospitals Use Twitter, Webcasts To Highlight Surgeries in Real Time

Hospitals increasingly are using webcasts and social media tools like Twitter to broadcast surgical procedures in real time, the Washington Post reports.

About the Trend

Some physicians have praised the educational benefits of live-tweeted and live-streamed surgeries. In addition, some hospitals have embraced the public relations boost that such practices provide.

Health care providers also have highlighted surgeries on Google+ and Instagram, according to the Post.

Concerns With Trend

However, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons opposes the practice of streaming surgeries online in real time unless the educational value for physicians is high.

The society's guidelines state, "Surgeons should not participate in live surgery broadcasts to the public or lay audiences using any medium, including television and the Internet."

Elaine Schattner, a journalist and physician, also opposes the practice. She said, "[M]ost hospitals are short-staffed, so to have a person who is the designated tweeter paid for by the hospital is absurd."

She also raised concerns about potential distractions to the surgeon and whether using social media to highlight surgeries holds any value beyond public relations benefits for hospitals (Pappas, Washington Post, 5/6).

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