Dr. Flea Blogged His Malpractice Trial, Settles When Outed

Dr. Flea and His Blog

Dr. Flea was the alias of a pediatrician who blogged anonymously on Blogger.com. I have visited the site occasionally following links from Grand Rounds but his writing was a bit too bitter for me to become a regular reader. Recently, Dr. Flea started to blog extensively about his malpractice trial and then suddenly, all his blog entries were deleted although the placeholder URL still remains in place.

It turns out the plaintiff's attorney used Dr. Flea's blog against him in court. When outed, the pediatric pulmonologist decided to settle the case within 24 hours. New York Personal Injury Law Blog points out that the Flea story was printed on the front page of the Boston Globe, above the fold. "Which is to say, his patients and colleagues will all see it." This is regrettable. I am sure many of us feel sorry for Dr Flea as well as for the patient and his/her family, of course.

Blogging and Your Career

Blogging can be a dangerous business. If it is done right and in a positive way, it can help advance your career. If blogging involves poor judgment, it can have undesirable consequences. Just ask Mark Jen, reportedly the first employee to be fired for blogging. He worked for Google and was blogging about the company's upcoming products. It did not take long for Google, famous for its somewhat secretive corporate culture, to decide that Mark Jen was not the best fit. Since then, Google teams and employees have launched multiple blogs (both work-related and personal) and I have not heard of anybody running into problems because of what they have written online.

I would encourage anybody to write a blog if they have something interesting to say and add value to the online conversation. Just be smart about it. Write to share and educate not to blow off steam. We live in a Google world. What you post online today can come back tomorrow to haunt you. According to LifeHacker:

"A new study shows that one fourth of human resources people have decided against hiring a job candidate based on information they found online about that person. Luckily, you can have a say in what Google says about you."

Some Advice for Medical Bloggers

- Write as if your boss and your patients are reading your blog every day
- Comply with HIPAA
- Do not blog anonymously. List your name and contact information
- If your blog is work-related, it is probably better to let your employer know
- Use a disclaimer, e.g. " All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice."

2 comments:

  1. If you want to blog anonymously, read this article from EFF at http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Anonymity/blog-anonymously.php

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's fine to blog anonymously if you follow all the other tips.

    ReplyDelete

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