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The Role of Social Networks, Medical–Legal Climate, and Patient Advocacy on Surgical Options: A New Era

Tracy, Erin E. MD, MPH; Bortoletto, Pietro MD

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001335
Contents: Current Commentary

The dissemination of information online and resultant public discourse through social media and other online channels has influenced the practice of medicine in dramatic ways. Physicians have historically worked to develop new techniques and devices for the benefit of their patients. It is only a more recent phenomenon, however, that these tools are either removed or their use is curtailed largely driven by anecdotal reports; passionate, vocal, often media-savvy advocates; and plaintiff attorneys. The use of power morcellation, hysteroscopic tubal sterilization, and mesh in urogynecologic procedures all have been victims of these societal pressures. It is important for health care professionals to be involved in the debate to ensure that public outcry does not unduly influence what we, as clinicians, are able to safely offer our patients. By being better advocates for our field, our instruments, and our patients, we can ensure medical decision-making is driven by good science and not public fervor.

Physicians should advocate for their patients and work to both develop and protect availability of safe technologies regardless of outside pressures that contradict good science.

Vincent Obstetrics and Gynecology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

Corresponding author: Pietro Bortoletto, MD, Vincent Obstetrics and Gynecology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, 406 Founders House, Boston, MA 02114; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2016 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.