Our Social Media Consults section has generated quite a bit of buzz lately among both physicians and midlevels. While the reaction among the former has been almost universal agreement that soliciting medical advice for your patients by asking random people in Facebook groups for help is highly inappropriate, professional, and potentially fraught with uncovered liability, the reaction among the latter has been, shall we say, mixed.
While many midlevels have come to appreciate the folly of social media consults - even the president of AANP has publicly advised as such - quite a few have nevertheless tried to double down and attempt to justify Facebook for direct patient care...by comparing themselves to veterinarians? What? 🐶 Woof Woof. We're not sure what the more horrifying implication here is - that human patients deserve the same standard of care as that of animals, or that nurse practitioners should be looking to veterinarians for advice on how to practice. Look, my dog might not mind if his veterinarian starts asking for help on Facebook because they don't know what to do, but as a human being in a clinic or a hospital, I sure as hell would mind, thank you very much. And Fido the dog might not care about potential HIPAA violations, but Frank the human would! And as much as I would hate for my dog to die because the veterinarian treating them followed faulty medical advice they found on Facebook, I would be a lot more mad if I found out that the midlevel/nurse practitioner killed my loved one in the hospital as a result of a Facebook "collaboration". This is one comparison that needs to be put to sleep, stat!