“Doctors on social media share embarrassing photos, details of patients”

Some doctors have misgivings about employing social media in the service of patient care: “What if one finds something that is not warm and fuzzy?” frets resident physician Haider Javed Warraich in a post this week on the New York Times’ Well blog. Despite his reservations, Warraich defends the practice, pointing out that doctors have used online intel to gauge suicide risk, discover relevant undisclosed criminal histories, and contact the families of unresponsive patients.

Social networking was also helpful on the day of the Boston Marathon bombing. Doctors near the finish line tweeted accounts of the attack to local emergency personnel six minutes before official announcements were made, giving staff critical time to prepare for the arrival of victims.

But until the utility of online sharing in health care contexts becomes obvious to hospital operatives, they’ll continue to view it the way the rest of us regard twerking—if we ignore it long enough, surely it will just go away. Nearly 60 percent of the health care professionals surveyed by InCrowd report having no social media access in clinical settings at work.

The American Nurses Association, American Medical Association, and other trade groups have tried to soften administrators’ hard line by setting standards for social media use in the workplace. They’ve published guidelines packed with nuggets like “Pause before you post” and “Be aware that any information [you] post on a social networking site may be disseminated (whether intended or not) to a larger audience.”

via Slate

This really isn’t as difficult as Slate makes it seem.

Social media employing any potentially identifying information should be permissable if and only if there is a clear benefit to the patient, and privacy precautions are taken.

It’s really that simple.

There’s no reason why doctors need to be digging around or worrying about patients’ undisclosed criminal history, and there’s certainly no reason why we ought to view privacy violations as inevitable.

The life-saving nature of certain types of tweet (for example, the doctors who seek help in assessing suicide risk) may suggest that some types of privacy violations may seem justifiable, but there is no reason why professionals should not be held to roughly the same standards as other life-saving professional ethical codes with regards to judgment calls, and full privacy protections should only be waived if for some reason adhering to them might cause serious harm.

Professionals who don’t take privacy seriously should lose their license and face criminal charges. If the profession won’t police itself, the entire profession will suffer a loss of credibility – patients will rightfully lose faith and trust in doctors.

The issue seems somehow more complicated than this in the Slate article because they use examples that border on dishonesty: why would they even include the Boston Marathon bombing incident? What possible reason could they have for treating that situation as if it were somehow in the same category as the incident with the nurses who posted private patient photos on their Facebook pages? The Boston Marathon case could not have involved privacy violations, since the tweeters were writing about what they’d observed in a public situation.

Under no circumstances should patient information be uploaded to any site for reasons that are not beneficial to the patient. Nobody should be afraid to seek medical help for fear that he will end up on a Facebook page, ridiculed by the so-called professionals.

A good rule of thumb might go like this:  if you would be embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid of what people might think if the person whose information you posted found out what you did, you are probably committing a crime.

In 1999 the California HealthCare Foundation issued a report titled “The Future of the Internet in Health Care: Five-Year Forecast,” by Robert Mittman and Mary Cain of the Institute for the Future… overall, the forecast proved remarkably prescient. Its conclusions about online privacy foreshadow the equilibrium most contemporary patients and providers have reached: “[T]here will inevitably be several well-publicized incidents of people being harmed by public releases of their health care information—those exceptional cases will shape the debate,” the report predicts. “[I]n the end, people and organizations will have to learn to live with a less-than-perfect combination of technologies and policies.”

There’s “less than perfect”, and then there’s just professionals who aren’t behaving according to professional standards.

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“Good news: the U.S. government will soon monitor your tweets to gauge your mental health”

Why not? They’ve made every other aspect of your life their concern, including your body itself. Why not your mind?

Elizabeth Harrington, Washington Free Beacon:

The federal government is studying how to use Twitter for surveillance on depressed people.

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) began a study financed by the National Institutes of Health last month that will provide “population level depression monitoring” through the social media site.

The project, “Utilizing Social Media as a Resource for Mental Health Surveillance,” is costing taxpayers $82,800…

The researchers will create algorithms to determine if people are depressed through their tweets, which they hope will serve as a basis for monitoring mental illness. They will also engage with depressed individuals on Twitter directly.

And then what? Tell them to get the hell off Twitter?…

via The Daily Caller.

Our system of government operates on certain principles: guaranteed liberties, checks & balances, constrained government, and so on.

The entire idea of “experts” acting on behalf of people who “need” – or, even more slippery, “could benefit from” – help is a convenient way to bypass all of that.

Yes, we do have an obligation to protect both ourselves from mentally ill people, and to provide mentally ill people with care if they are not in a position to take care of themselves. But we also need to recognize that this is an awesome power – the power to appropriate someone’s right to self-governance, really.

The history of the 20th century provides far too many examples of how “mental health treatment” can be used to abuse and control. We need to learn from the past: mental health intervention needs to be balanced with adequate protections against abuse.

“Hundreds of couples plea for chance to adopt Down Syndrome child”

In a world where the dominant culture divides children into the wanted and undesired for the convenience of others, it’s worth noting when a news story demonstrates the power of hope, love, and life:

A Virginia church says it has received hundreds of calls from people around the world offering to adopt an unborn child with Down syndrome who otherwise would have been aborted.

After the unborn child came to the attention of Rev. Thomas Vander Woude of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, Va., an urgent plea was posted Monday on the church’s Facebook page. …

…The mother had less than a week before she would no longer have been able to have an abortion, but allowed the church time to find an adoptive couple if it could. Fr. Vander Woude prayed, and then shared the story on social media…

…The following morning Fr. Vander Woude said morning Mass and then he walked into the rectory. When he walked in, the three ladies who work in the office were all answering phones.

Martha Drennan, Director of Adult Faith Formation and Liturgy at Holy Trinity hadn’t even known about the posting. “I came into the office Monday morning and the phones were ringing off the hook,” she told me. “Hundreds of people were calling in.”

And as the morning went on, the call load became so heavy that Martha had to bring in some help. A young seminarian spending the summer in the parish was pulled in to the office to help man the phones. “I don’t think anyone could have expected that the response would be so quick and so much,” she said, still sounding bewildered….

via Hot Air

So much for the narrative that “nobody” wants Down Syndrome kids.

Martha said that if you added up all the emails in Fr. Vander Woude’s account and all the phone calls it’d likely be over a thousand couples willing to adopt the child. She said the young seminarian was bowled over by how many people were so open to the idea of radically changing their lives in order to love a child. And this outpouring of love saved a child. The couple is considering three of the families right now.

I asked Fr. Vander Woude how he felt about this amazing turn of events. His answer surprised me. “Honestly, I kick myself for not having done something like this sooner,” he said.

“But I think the thing to focus on is it shows that we are all God’s instruments,” he said. “And it really shows the goodness of people, doesn’t it?”

Yes. It does.

from National Catholic Register

Most Down Syndrome babies are aborted, due to the availability of prenatal testing and late term abortion.

“When a diagnosis happens prenately, the information many parents get is not up-to-date, not accurate. It can be overwhelming,” she said.

Grover said being the parent of a Down Syndrome child is a “joyful” experience but also has its “ups and downs,” as a parent would with any other child.

She said she was proud of the courage displayed by the couple who didn’t just consider terminating the pregnancy.

“I’m proud of them for taking time to have someone tell them they have options and following through with their heart,” she said.

from ABC

Feminists apparently are not pleased with the story, however

But Katie Baker bemoaned the effort at the pro-abortion blog and complained “the woman in this story is still being coerced into carrying to term.”

“Let me pressure you into carrying to term by hastily crowdsourcing an adoptive family!”

So many mistreated babies and kids with Downs live terrible lives. Instead of throwing resources at a nonviable fetus, why can’t the church help children with Down syndrome that are already alive? Because anti-abortion folks care more about fetuses with fairytale narratives than actual babies.

via LifeNews