Saturday, December 22, 2007

This has been all over the news the last week. Sure, the tattoo story itself is amusing, perhaps even funny, and sure, that would have been a great story to tell friends. But this guy crossed a line. Perhaps it was just a moment's lapse in judgment, but it was a really stupid thing to do. And now, he's paying bigtime for it. We found out he was fired a few days ago. A chief surgical resident. 6 months out from becoming a full-fledged surgeon. 4.5 years of training, down the drain. Now, to become a surgeon, he'll have to repeat part of residency elsewhere IF someone else will take him.

And some people told me that he has a family too. What a bummer.

Some people say it wasn't a big deal. Or that the patient's identity was not visible in the picture he took. Others say it's not an issue because as it turns out the patient is the proud owner of a, err, Gentleman's Club in AZ and probably doesn't have issues with modesty. In fact, I've read comments in bulletin boards that go as far as saying this is the best thing that's happened to this patient, because he's going to see a lot more action now.

The truth is plain and simple. This surgeon crossed a line. He betrayed a patient's sacred trust, that his doctor would take good care of him. Holistically, not just medically.

These days, it really IS pretty easy to take someone's picture, and to circulate it. After all, with the ease and portability of cellphone cameras or PDAs, it's easy to 'snap and share'. Perhaps it's my paranoia, but I've always been to fearful of doing something like that. The only patient pictures I've taken was via the hospital's official photographer, with a signed consent from the patient allowing use for presentations, and publication. And I've yet to use a single one for my blog (all I found on Google). Personally, I believe informed consent should also include telling the patients what you plan to do with the pictures. And saying 'oh, and by the way I want to put it on my blog' just doesn't sound right. Eventhough the motive may be to spread knowledge. But then again, this is just my tight-assed interpretation of ethics- I know many would disagree with me as many blogs out there do publish patient-related pictures.

And although I think this surgeon was wrong, I feel bad thinking that he's probably ruined a bright future because of a moment's childishness. That this Christmas his wife and kids will be miserable, perhaps even fighting, about how stupid he was and how he ruined the family.

Food for thought, for us who use cellphone cameras.


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