Recent videos shared by plastic surgeons on social media applications such as Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube, among others, have blurred the line between entertainment and patient care. This has left many in the plastic surgery community calling for the development of more structured oversight and guidance regarding video sharing on social media. To date, no official guidelines exist for plastic surgeons to follow. Little is known about the ethical implications of social media use by plastic surgeons, especially with regard to video sharing. A systematic review of the literature on social media use in plastic surgery was performed on October 31, 2016, with an emphasis on ethics and professionalism. An ethical analysis was conducted using the four principles of medical ethics. The initial search yielded 87 articles. Thirty-four articles were included for analyses that were found to be relevant to the use of social media in plastic surgery. No peer-reviewed articles were found that mentioned Snapchat or addressed the ethical implications of sharing live videos of plastic surgery on social media. Using the four principles of medical ethics, it was determined that significant ethical concerns exist with broadcasting these videos. This analysis fills an important gap in the plastic surgery literature by addressing the ethical issues concerning live surgery broadcasts on social media. Plastic surgeons may use the guidelines proposed here to avoid potential pitfalls.
Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.
From the Division of Plastic Surgery, Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Received for publication November 16, 2016; accepted March 22, 2017.
Disclosure: None of the authors has a financial interest in any of the products or devices mentioned in this article.
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A “Hot Topic Video” by Editor-in-Chief Rod J. Rohrich, M.D., accompanies this article. Go to PRSJournal.com and click on “Plastic Surgery Hot Topics” in the “Digital Media” tab to watch. On the iPad, tap on the Hot Topics icon.
Clark F. Schierle, M.D., Ph.D., Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery, S.C., 676 North Saint Clair Street, Suite 1575, Chicago, Ill. 60611, email@example.com