#MedTwitter: Doctors miffed at sensational claims over diseases that simply do not exist

In a recent case that came from Hyderabad, a doctor shared a treatment history of a patient suffering from a disease that was not even in his domain.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 15, 2023 | 9:46 AMUpdatedMar 29, 2023 | 1:03 PM

Social Media and doctors

#MedTwitter and #Medico are the two hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, respectively, that doctors use to share professional life hacks and information about the unique cases they treat. But, of late, it has been noticed that a few doctors are sensationalising some such cases — all for some virality and media exposure!

In a recent instance, a Hyderabad doctor shared the treatment history of a patient suffering from a disease that does not even fall within his area of expertise. And a doctor who does have domain expertise, told South First that the doctor was hyping up the case just to get publicity.

The Hyderabad doctor had made the sensational claim that a vital organ had failed in the patient because of a commonly-used gadget.

“This is not true at all,” said the doctor we spoke to. “What he described is a phenomenon well known to specialists, and the failure of the organ is fleeting, with immediate recovery. He has unnecessarily sensationalised the whole issue,” the doctor said.

While doctors who sensationalise cases must be held to account, the real culprit may well be the private hospitals they work in. Hospital managements exhort doctors to not only be active on social media, but to ensure that they have a huge following. So much so, many doctors now pay social media specialists to run their handles.

“Hospital managements mostly focuses on departments like neurology, gastroenterology, cardiology, etc, as they are huge revenue earners and attract the kind of patients who access social media. The popularity of the doctors on social media influences their decision on which hospital to visit,” a corporate hospital source told South First.

In the case of Hyderabad doctor whose post went viral, his bogus claims were picked up by several mainstream media outlets, leaving his specialist peers totally miffed and wondering why journalists entertain such wild claims instead of depending on reputed medical journals that publish hundreds of authentic studies.

“From an ethical point of view, this is wrong. If #MedTwitter is helping the doctor to reach patients, it is also bringing out the worst in the medical field,” one source remarked.