Twittering from the Operating Room

Twitter has finally gone way too far by tweeting where no one has twat before. According to The New York Times, last Tuesday, surgeons from a Missouri children's hospital used Twitter to update family members on the progress of the surgery of a 10-year-old Mongolian boy who had serious neck burns from a fireworks accident. The surgery was scheduled to put expanders under his skin and stretch it so that he could gain a full range of motion in his neck again. For the duration of the surgery the family agreed to have a doctor tweet updates from the OR that could be seen by strangers and family members alike who were followers of the hospital on Twitter. Here are some of the tweets sent during the boy's surgery:

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Dr. Singhal is scrubbing in to prepare for the surgery

So far, Dr. Singhal has made an incision on 1 side of the patient's neck; the team is preparing the tissue expanders for insertion.

Our patient is doing great. It's almost over mom. 2nd incision is done and closed up. Dr. Singhal starting on the 3rd one now.


Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but there are SO many things wrong with this in my mind. What if the patient wasn't doing great? Would the family, huddled around a computer screen, find out that their child was in a coma from a curt 25-character message, or would the updates just stop? How many strangers would have watched the newsfeeds like a train wreck? What if a message was unclear or misunderstood? As someone who's sat for hours in a waiting room, asked doctors for elaboration and watched their faces for a sign of optimism, I would never have been able to handle this insensitive way to relay quick information without a touch of human compassion. ~Hannah

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