A cosmetic surgeon has backed a private Sydney hospital’s decision to ban doctors from an alleged widespread practice of using social media to document surgery.
Dr Laith Barnouti is a cosmetic plastic surgeon who works with Westmead Private Hospital and has voiced his support for their move to stop the “unhygienic”, “unethical” and “unnecessarily risky” practice in its operating theatres.
He told Mamamia the growing trend, which sees “many surgeons” share videos and photos live from the operating table for promotional purposes, was concerning for several reasons.
“If a surgeon is using Snapchat during surgery, it means they are downing tools, halting their work to pick up a phone and take images in the operating theatre, while a patient is lying on the table. This is not only unethical but interfering with the progress of the surgery.”
Dr Barnouti said the practice could seriously compromise the outcome of the surgery.
“It is a distraction for the surgeon. Surgeons should be focusing on the health and welfare of their patient, not thinking about sending Snapchat messages in the middle of a complex operation.”
Dr Barnouti said he was also concerned that phones were not being sterilised like everything else is in theatre, and that phones were often contaminated with “all sorts of germs and bacteria”.
The doctor called for health authorities to introduce a nation-wide ban, but believes that if enough hospitals introduced their own bans, it would effectively halt the practice in Australia.
“The two or three major private companies ban it, it will be banned… it’s not if, it is when.”
The Australian Medical Association’s New South Wales branch has voiced its support for Westmead Private’s ban, saying the use of Snapchat in surgery “skates too close to concerns about ethics, doctor-patient confidentiality, and restrictions on doctors marketing their services.”
“Generally speaking, using social media to broadcast or record medical procedures is not something that should be encouraged,” AMA-NSW president Brad Frankum told Mamamia, adding that capturing footage to be shared with other doctors for educational purposes was another story.