September 2018 #PRSJournalClub Wrap-Up: Social Media in Surgery: Ethics and Professionalism

by Rajiv P. Parikh, MD, MPHS
Plastic Surgery Resident, Washington University in St. Louis

The September edition of #PRSJournalClub provided an excellent discussion of an important special topic PRS article entitled “The Ethical and Professional Use of Social Media in Surgery: A Systematic Review of the Literature” by Bennett, Berlin, MacEachern, Buchman, Preminger, and Vercler. This was another tremendous #PRSJournalClub discussion on the #PRSJournal Facebook page, which continues to enable a broad audience to ask questions and interact directly with the authors. The article can be found here.

In the study, Bennett et al. perform a comprehensive and systematic review of the surgical literature to evaluate recommendations on the ethical and professional use of social media. The authors also propose several key principles to guide plastic surgeons and plastic surgery trainees engaged in social media platforms to maintain a respective, productive, and professional approach. This is an incredibly important topic to all plastic surgeons and for our specialty. Social media use has expanded exponentionally over the last few years and has become one of the primary mediums for physician-patient interaction. However, there are significant challenges to maintining high ethical standards and professionalism when using social media. Furthermore, sensationalized social media accounts in plastic surgery, or what the authors term as “medutainment”, can negatively reflect on plastic surgery as a specialty and compromise patients’ trust in their providers.

In this paper, the authors provide key principles and tips to ensure plastic surgeons engaged on social media maintain a higher standard of behavior. The authors draw from the literature and propose their own potential guidelines on this important subject, highlighted in Figure 2 from the article (below).


From “The Ethical and Professional Use of Social Media in Surgery: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” Originally published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

The article was first discussed by the current Resident Ambassadors to the PRS Editorial Board Francesco Egro, MD, Nicole Phillips, MD, and Ira Savetsky, MD, and the special guest moderator, Jeffrey Janis, MD. Listen to the podcast discussion below:

In addition, Dr. Heather Furnas, Dr. Ashkan Ghavami, and Dr. Amanda Gosman all provided separate expert discussions on this article. These discussions offer unique perspectives on the article and can be found in the links that follow:

An engaging and thougt-provoking online discussion also took place on the #PRSJournal Facebook page on September 16th, where established plastic surgeons and residents were able to ask questions, and get answers from the authors of the article themselves! Don’t worry if you missed it! A summary of the interesting discussion is provided here and the full discussion can be accessed at any time at the facebook linke above.

We hope you enjoy the top highlights from the discussion and look forward to seeing you at the next #PRSJournalClub on Facebook!



This September #PRSJournalClub article (as well as other Journal Club selections from September), selected classic pairings and videos, and the entire Facebook Q&A are archived on here.

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