Tag Archives: patient


Consent for Medical Photos on Facebook

I’m a doctor and so it’s not surprising that I have many doctors on my list of Facebook friends. Not often but not as rare as I would want it to be, I’ve seen various photos I’d rather not see on my Facebook feed: a dismembered hand reattached, a humongous ovarian tumor, an eye socket with a knife sticking out of it, a patient unconscious on an operating table, patients in the background at the emergency room, and hands in bloodied surgical gloves around a draped boy’s body at circumcision missions. Continue reading


How deep is a Facebook friendship?

My most popular post to date is the one where I asked “Can Patients be Facebook friends with doctors?”. I got varied comments. To summarize a few, I was asked why I was making such a fuss about it when everyone knows a Facebook friendship is not a real friendship so you can be trigger-happy with making FB friends. I was also asked if doctors can be friends with med reps – I’ll attempt to answer that in a future post. All these comments made me think about the depth of Facebook friendships – are you really my friend if you are my FB friend? Is having more FB friends better?

As of today, I have 626 FB friends and gulp, 82 friend requests. Most of my FB friends are from PGH or UP, some are my grade school/high school classmates, a few are my students (mostly sorority sisters) and a handful are from the pharma industry. I like that on FB I am reminded to greet even that grade school classmate I haven’t seen in decades, a happy birthday. I like how I am able to catch up with friends who are abroad. But how deep are these friendships exactly if we don’t meet up offline?

Blogger Linzee was also confused about FB friendships when she wrote on the Etsy blog

Did these folks really fit my definition of “friend”? Why would they want to read my day-to-day prattle? How did I know them and why should we stay in touch?

How can we define friendship? Watch this short YouTube video by Notebook Babies entitled “What is a Friend?

The video defines a friend thus –

  1. A friend is someone who will compliment you.
  2. A friend will cheer you up when you’re sad.
  3. A friend will let you win sometimes.
  4. A friend will remember your birthday.
  5. A friend is fun to be with.
  6. And a friend will make you smile.

I think you can do all of these on Facebook, except No. 5. How important is no. 5? Does online chatting count as “being with”?

In the same post, Linzee talks about a photographer named Tanja Hollander who has embarked on “Are You Really My Friend? The Facebook Portrait Project.” Tanja has set out to meet up with all her 626 FB friends and take their photos “in intimate settings – gathered around kitchen tables and lounging on living room sofas.” I suppose this is her way to make the friendship real! Tanya’s work will be on exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art in 2012 – that should be interesting.

Finally in this article, “Friendship, Facebook-style,” Aditya Chakrabortty recounts how on Christmas Day, a certain Simone Back posted what was essentially a suicide note on her Facebook wall – “Took all my pills be dead soon so bye bye every one.” Sadly, not one of her 1,048 FB friends checked up on her. How can that be real friendship? Very disturbing indeed. Something to think about with Christmas only a few days away.