Sunday, August 03, 2008

Changing It Up

I suspected that this day would come, but even so I wasn't entirely prepared for it. In discussions with my chief resident about how I was dealing with my patient's death, I blurted out "Oh, I blogged a little bit about how I felt about it, which seemed to help."

Big, huge mistake.

Apparently, the organization where I'm doing my residency sent out a "cease and desist" email last year to resident bloggers, asking/telling them to immediately stop blogging about anything to do with patients or residency. I was forwarded a copy of this email. It would seem that the reason they are concerned is that a blog could be used in court as a medico-legal document. I'd say that is ludicrous, but most of us still remember what happened to Flea.

So now I'm trying to figure out what to do.

I think I'll leave up previous posts written during residency, as they were all written before I'd gotten the word. If you notice something you feel is a HIPAA violation (keeping in mind I try to change personal details and deliberately keep things vague), shoot me an email at so we can talk about it. I'm afraid I'm going to have to quit writing this blog, though, as I really don't have much of a life outside of residency. Even if I never posted anything about a patient, ever, the email specifically says "and residency". If I were a great cook, or could write discerning article reviews in psychiatry weekly, or had something else interesting to say, it would be different, but I don't.

Partly, though, it made me a little angry. Another resident told me he writes fiction and non-fiction (I'm assuming with the intention of publishing), and he takes similar precautions to change patient data, so if his book were published how is that different from my blog? It could still be used in court, right? Even a diary, if its existence is known, can be admissible in certain cases, so how is that any different? Could a draft of a manuscript be admissible? I think the program took the "just stop it now" step with the intention of examining its policy later, but it doesn't seem that any actual discussion has taken place. If it had, surely they would have made this an official policy instead of just an email, sent out before I joined the organization.

Ugh. I haven't posted since I found out because I didn't know what to say. I'm not in any trouble with my program, and I'd like to keep it that way.


Midwife with a Knife said...

Um... you could appeal the order, as long as you don't violate patient confidentialilty, what you do with your own time is yours. First ammendment and all that stuff.

Chris Jenness said...

Please don't stop posting. I really enjoy reading your blog. There has to be a better option?

Mayhem said...

I know they meant well when they made this rule but I think it's overkill and oversteps their boundaries. They can tell you not to write about patients but they can't tell you not to write about residency. Sadly, medicine is such that random rules like these are very common and many times it's not worth the effort to fight them. So, while I don't want you to stop writing, I can't imagine much good will come from rocking the boat. Especially, so early in residency. I hope you can sort it out though, because I will miss your writing.

The MSILF said...

Yeah, don't stop. You are anonymous, and you also have rights to expression. Fuck them. I never do any blog related anything from the hospital, of course, but I am not at all anonymous...they could crack down on me, of course, but I'd probably just start back up anonymously.

Barbie said...

Damn that sucks! I'll miss your blog. I was wondering why you hadn't posted recently.