This was bound to happen. Medical malpractice cases are a known risk for any active medical practitioner. Sadly I received this message from a good friend who was just starting to become active in healthcare and social media — and actually noted that he not only saw the value for himself and his patients, but for the global community he was reaching out to. Then he was deposed on a case….
Just got off a phone deposition for a patient. I have to testify on my tweets
Bye Bye Twitter
Any reasonably competent attorney is going to go to great lengths to learn everything they can about you. Anything that you have written, tweeted, blogged or put on Facebook is “fair” game for them to use when they cross examine you on the stand. Their “job” is to impugn your character. In many cases a defense attorney’s objections will be sustained — but from personal experience, I can tell you that this is not always the case. Independent of the facts of the case, if the attorney is able to use your public comments to paint you as a uncaring, sarcastic person — then perhaps they can discredit you as a witness or as a treating physician. Even a well intentioned tweet can be taken out of context if the conversation is not clear. Thus, risk resides in the fact that non-visual or other needed cues are absent in most of our daily social media interactions — and can easily be mis-interpreted.
I, for one will not cease my healthcare and social media related activities because of the very real “risk” that I may need to testify about a tweet, FB post or blog post at some point in time in the future. But it does serve as a reminder that you must be very careful — what you say in the world of social media — stays in the world of social media — FOREVER.
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