How to write a medical blog and not get fired

I have covered the topic before but there is a new example of a sensible approach to medical blogging.

Kevin, MD linked to the blog Boston EMT which was the subject of an article in Boston Globe. Kevin wondered if the Boston EMT's employer was aware of the blog and the question was answered in the comments by the blog author himself:

"Yes, my employer, Boston EMS, has seen the blog. The Chief of Department has seen it, and, in fact, he has given reporters permission to interview me and write about the blog. In fact, two high-ranking members of the department have participated in it, by telling stories of their own in the form of comments left on the site.

Consent to write the blog was given on two conditions: (1) That I make clear that my views do not necessarily reflect those of the city or of Boston EMS, and (2) that I adhere to the privacy requirements of HIPAA.

I've been careful to do both."

This is one of the "right ways" to do medical blogging.

Tips for Medical Bloggers

- Write as if your boss and your patients are reading your blog every day
- Comply with HIPAA
- Anonymous blogging  may not last long. Consider using your name and credentials on your blog and other social media accounts
- If your blog is work-related, it is probably better to let your employer know.
- Inquire if there are any blogging guidelines. If there are, comply with them strictly.
- 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."
- Get your blog accredited by the Heath on the Net Foundation


This Google video shows that it takes about 2 minutes to start a blog on Blogger.com. Creating a web site has never been easier.

References:
Simply Fired - How NOT to Blog About Your Job. Especially If You Are a Doctor. Clinical Cases and Images - Blog, 08/2005.
Dr Flea Blogged His Malpractice Trial, Settles When Outed. Clinical Cases and Images - Blog, 05/2007.
Anonymous Medical Blogger? Not Anymore. Clinical Cases and Images - Blog, 02/2007.

Related:
How to blog - and keep your job. BBC, 2006.
Twitter, HIPAA, Privacy and Freedom of Speech. Phil Baumann, 07/2008.
When Blogging Gets You Fired. David Bradley, 2009.
On blogging. DB’s Medical Rants, 2009.
As A Busy Physician, Why Do I Even Bother Blogging? http://goo.gl/fSF3 - Excellent summary.

10 comments:

  1. sounds cool...only that asks for too much care and caution

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ca we/you please stop advising people against blogging anonymously? There's no factual basis for that recommendation.

    If you want to say "even if you blog anonymously you're not anonymous and act accordingly" that would seem to make some sense, but a blanket prohibition against blogging anon makes little sense.

    I give myself as an example. While I'm not exactly anonymous, my full name doesn't appear anywhere on my blog. I do have contact information, and my 'About' page tells people more than they want to know about me. My bosses know about it, my colleagues know about it, and a lot of them read the blog. Not one has said "gee, I'd really read it more / find it more believable if you weren't blogging anonymously".

    Blogging is personal, and there are a lot of approaches to it. All are valid as long as they don't cross the HIPAA lines.

    GruntDoc

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have experienced an intermediate situation. As a radiologist interested in PACS and so on, I publish Dalai's PACS Blog, http://www.doctordalai.com. I had included several negative OPINIONS on a certain brand of equipment. Apparently a competing vendor got hold of the postings and used them for sales material. The scorned company went to the clinic that uses the equipment in question and told them that my postings were making the clinic look bad. The clinic's business manager told one of my partners (who told me) that the posts needed to come down, and that if I was so uncomfortable with the equipment, perhaps I shouldn't work there. My group took this as a threat to our contract and told me to remove the posts. I told my group that I would check with my attorney, which I did, and I was advised not to fight this huge company. The posts came down. I did have a bit of a pyrrhic victory in that many of my readers became quite angry that I had been dealt with in this manner, and promised to take the big company to task. So far, that doesn't seem to have happened. My blog is now a "kinder and gentler" place, sad to say.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Why not blog anonymously? I thought that might be a good solution.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Y.S. Don't you want credit for all of the good ideas that you are putting out there? Blogging is a good way to expand your professional contacts. What would it be a good solution to?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, I believe that it is a good idea to inform your employers first if you are planning to blog about work. Do follow the guidelines in order to avoid problems in the future. The comments here looks interesting though, sounds like there should be a debate about this issue.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I agree. It is a good idea to talk with your employer before blogging about the company. I would say the tough part is blogging about the medical field. So many of the facts are changing regularly and there are so many different opinions. It is hard to be completely informed about something that is likely to change almost immediately.

    ReplyDelete
  8. As a small business owner myself I can say that I have always wanted my attorneys and staff to blog. We handle personal injury and accident cases in the Memphis, TN area and I've found that it's great for us to try to give as much information out to accident victims as possible. But with that being said, I would not and do not allow my employees to comment on specifics of cases that we are handling. You also want to make very sure that they aren't writing things that show themselves or the firm in a false or bad light.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A blog is such an important part of the identity of any business today.

    Bet you would have not been willing to say that statement 7 to 10 years ago.

    I have seen blogs actually make or break a business when they used them or abused them.

    I think that every business should have a blog because it creates another way for a customer who may not have time to visit or call during working hours to interact.

    But as a business owner of a medical instrument sales business I am always going to say it is better to inform and gain support of owners and management than to have to take the fallout that comes with surprising them!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I host most of my blogs on Blogger.com. It's free and a very robust system.

    WordPress has come to dominate the professional blogging world but Blogger.com is very easy maintenance and allows me to concentrate on writing. I use the system mostly as a notebook/archive.

    In the meantime, Tumblr is overtaking WordsPress, but its limited customization still keeps Blogger as the better option for blogging software.

    ReplyDelete

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