Recently I've seen a few physicians "call each other out" in a manner that I believe is akin to Theresa Brown's physician bullying in the New York Times. In these instances passive aggressive strategies were used to expose an individual's mistakes, rather than personally contacting the offending party and offering constructive criticism or suggestions for improvement. While it is important to educate medical professionals that use social media about best practices, I am disappointed by the use of social media to amplify physician faux pas and embarrass or attack offenders.
Other than writing this vague blog post, I can’t really do or say much about the many instances of bullying I've seen. I’m just beginning my career, so I’m not in any position to confront any physician on twitter, publicly or privately, especially those at academic institutions where I may one day need a job. In a school setting, it would be unwise for a medical student to directly confront an attending. It would be even more unwise for the medical student to make this confrontation public. So why would it be okay for a medical student to confront a physician online ?
Twitter is not a democratic forum free of consequences, even for those who wish to engage in a productive and respectful dialogue with “superiors”. Even though I believe we should use social media to teach our colleagues, the extent to which I can teach other medical professionals is limited. The hierarchies that exist in medical education may exist in the digital space. I can't say I've specifically "confronted" a higher ranking physician, but I'm certainly not foolish enough to find out!