Friday, May 18, 2007

Odds and Ends

Over the past few months a number of well written and widely read medical blogs have closed up shop. Barbados Butterfly, Dr. Flea, and Fat Doctor were all favorite reads of mine and I was sorry to see them go. Although each left for a slightly different reason, their departure highlights (I think) some special issues around medical blogging.

Blogging itself is an interesting idea. Part reporting, part opinion and part diary, bloggers post online for anyone to read. I admit when I started this blog I thought my family and friends would be the main readers with maybe another northern-type doctor stumbling acroos the page from time to time. I've been amazed that people from all over the world seem to be interested in reading what I write. I wonder if the suprising popularity and penetrance of the above, discontinued, blogs is part of the reason for their demise.

Unlike many medical blogs, this blog is not anonymous. There is a real life picture of both of the contributing authors in the top right hand corner, and anyone who is internet savy can likely obtain at least a real world name and mailing address for us. There are a couple of reasons this is not an anonymous blog, but the formost is that I felt the blog was far too specialized to attain true anonymity. Although I could have posted anon., anyone interested could have figured out a very short list of doctor couples travelling between Vancouver and the arctic. I also wanted to post actual, experiential content (including pics) and much of this by it's very nature precludes anonymity.

Patient confidentiality must always be formost in the minds of physicians. It is of course possible that patients, their families, or other hospital staff can stumble into a medical blog, and might recognize sensitive and confidential information, were it to be posted. With this in mind any patient information in this blog is not just anonymized, but fictionalized. Patient confidentiality simply precludes the discussion of specific real life cases in a public forum. It does not, however, prevent discussion of fictionalized cases, based on long term experience, but not on any actual patient, and containing no details attributible to an actual patient. Since I've been up north I've seen a number of fascinating once in a life-time kinds of cases, but I've not commented on any because as with this blog, I believe them to be too unique to be anonymous in any meaningful way.

As I've watched some of my favorite blogs disappear, it's made me glad this blog isn't anonymous. I've always tried to steer my posts towards that which I wouldn't mind a stranger, my boss, my collegues, or my patients overhear me say.

It will be interesting to see in which direction medical blogging moves over the near future. Will it become a liability that our insurers recommend against? Will it continue to be a window into the triumphs and tragedies of medicine? Will it remain an outlet for those doing their best in systems that seem designed to bring out their worst? Or will it simply fade away...only time will tell.

In the mean time I'll try to continue to post good material, and for those who have concerns about this blog....please read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page...

The 5 reasons I blog meme has inspired me to start working on a series of posts about addiction. Since I started practice addiction has been an area of medicine I've been very involved in, and I realise I've posted little on the subject. I hope to post the first post in this series later this week.

Finally, for those who are worried about the saftey of my camera with the recent lack of pictorial posts, rest assured, it is safe. I've recently had some major internet issues here in Inuvik, and have had a great deal of difficulty posting pics. It seems the internet is again working well, and I will continue my endless slideshow in the near future.


Clare said...

Here's hoping that you won't disappear. Your blog is much too enjoyable and insightful to not be missed if it was gone.

Michaelangeloh said...

Isnt there an addiction to posting.Post agress syndrome ?