Tweeting surgery

I came across this clip of Gray’s anatomy via Jane Hart’s C4LPT blog.  I’ve seen a few twitter channels broadcasting live surgery from the States, this piece in the Digital Journal gives links to Twitter streams at the Swedish Hospital in Seattle who tweeted a live kidney operation last year.  This episode of Gray’s Anatomy has sparked off a discussion thread on Linked In and there aren’t many voices in support of it.

I can see that there could be educational value in this, but is Twitter the most appropriate tool for this?  Wouldn’t a private channel be more appropriate than a public broadcast via Twitter.   Whilst I think Twitter can be used in teaching I’m not sure that I’ll be pushing for it to be used to tweet live surgery.

Doctor Bailey introduces Twitter as a learning tool to broadcast surgeries over the internet. The chief on the other hand, is not very happy about the idea. At least not at first.


  1. Got to watch it!
    It is interesting portrayal. I still doubt the educational value. It’s true that sharing experiences from surgery could be very valuable, but it seems unlikely that real time 140 character statements is the best way to do that.
    What is the advantage of the real-time sharing? The surgeon is not going to have time to answer real-time queries. Wouldn’t it be better if the surgeon wrote up an account of the procedure (with the patient’s permission) after the event. They could still share the decision making process but there really would be time to discuss how decisions were made.

    With regards to Twitter being used to source equipment/expertise in real time, surely there might be a more appropriate channel than twitter for this? I can just imagine all the RTs circulating calls for help whilst it is still a novelty!

    I’d worry that tweeting surgery might have more to do with marketing and raising profiles, rather than improving patient care, or sharing learning.

    Thanks for posting, Natalie.

    1. Thanks Anne Marie. I wasn’t sure what the advantages of real-time sharing would be either. If the patient provides consent to record the surgery it would surely be better to watch that and have the ability to stop and pause and ask questions and take time to answer these and perhaps link to other resources.

  2. Did they show the reaction of the Hospital comms team? I’m sure there will be a side story about the comms team finding the tweets and the surgeon having to sit down with them and talking about what he has done wrong and how they can utilise the service.

    I can totally right gritty, real life drama 😛

    1. Colin I was going to say something about how the NHS IT teams might react to something like this, but thought I’d wait and see if anyone added a comment 😉 I’ve not seen the whole episode but don’t suppose there was a scene showing the reaction of the Hospital comms team, perhaps you should have a go at scripting a scene and putting it into Xtranormal 😉

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