Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sharing vs Anonymity

I am not particularly anonymous and I haven't been very secretive about what program I'm in; therefore, I've opted to be intentionally vague about decedents for autopsies. The chances of someone whose loved one has been submitted to Duke for autopsy doing a web search and stumbling on my blog are pretty much slim to none. But... there is always a chance. No one wants to read a gleeful account of someone eviscerating their grandmother.

So I will say things like I got to slice and examine lungs and kidneys last week (because I did, go me! My first little bit of autopsy cutting), but I won't say things like we got a 63 y/o male with a history of CABG (we didn't, honestly) with massive amounts of pleural effusion. There might sometimes be unique things that we see that would be interesting to write about, but I guess I would rather be boring than violate anyone's privacy.


  1. Lol that first paragraph was funny. I'm just wondering about something though...Could you actually say something like "we got a 63 y/o male with such-and-such" and be OK with that from a legal perspective? That's not violating any HIPAA rules or anything since it's not like you're giving out medical record numbers. In addition, these people are dead, not living. I think it's ok to do that if you so choose, but maybe it's a matter of privacy and respect more than anything else in that case...a personal moral choice actually.

    That reminds me...I remember reading a news report a couple years back about a medical student actually posing with cadavers, making a thumbs-up sign in front of the deceased, and posting this stuff on YouTube. He wasn't withdrawn from the program, but still, that's very disrespectful to the deceased. As long as you don't name names or post pictures, it's your call as to how you want to proceed.

    1. Another thing: How about those cases on the pathology board exams, USMLEs, or ASCP certification test? I always wonder if those questions are all made up, or are they real cases? And if they're real cases, are they all from dead people or are some living cases mixed in there? Hmmm...

    2. It isn't identifying information, but I'd rather avoid gray areas all together.

  2. I think you're doing the right thing avoiding gray areas and this is something I thought a LOT about when I started blogging years ago. My solution was to reamain as anonymous as possible, not revealing where I'm attending school while I'm a student there and not mentioning the company I currently work for. As it relates to my job, this is probably a good idea since I don't always have nice things to say about the people I work with/for.