Danielle Ofri is a writer and practicing internist at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. She is the editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her newest book is Medicine in Translation: Journeys with my Patients (View the YouTube book trailer.) You can follow Danielle on Twitter and Facebook, or visit her homepage.
Are doctors suddenly in the kiss-and-tell mode? What about confidentiality? Professionalism? HIPAA?
As one of the aforementioned doctor-writers, I look upon this trend with both awe and trepidation. I suspect that that this flourishing literary phenomenon relates to the public’s fascination and fear about all things medical. It also relates to the falling away of previous, pedestal-like images of doctors and doctoring. Lastly, it may have occurred to the medical profession-- and this has taken a few centuries, it seems-- that doctors have profound emotional reactions to the work we do, and that exploring these reactions may offer benefit to both patient and doctor.
Whatever the reason, this literary genre appears to be here to stay, and it is worth considering the ethical implications. Legally, there doesn't appear to be much beyond protecting identity and avoiding libel.