Contrary to what you may think, Facebook can be a lifesaver, particularly when doctors and nurses are logged on. Yes, indeed, there have been instances of MDs and RNs putting their expertise to live-saving use on Facebook.
One such instance involves a nurse who was online looking at photographs of her friend’s child noticed that the child’s eyes were unusual: instead of two red eyes (from a poorly taken flash photograph) one of the child’s eyes reflected white, which the nurse, knew from her training could be an indication of eye cancer. She called her friend and explained her suspicions. When the child was taken to the doctor, she was diagnosed with two malignant tumors behind the eye in question.
Because of the early detection, the tumors were removed and the child recovered – however, without early detection, doctors stated it was likely the cancer would have been fatal. It sort of makes you wonder if some medical school classes may start to resemble an online PhD program where aspiring doctors and nurses seek to utilize the people’s increased exposure on social media to save their lives. People are often more open on the Internet than they are in the doctor’s office, after all.
MSNBC highlighted another of these social media saves when a mother, Deborah Copaken Kogan, posted photos of her sick young child online to fish for a second opinion. Initially her in-person doctor visit yielded a diagnosis of perhaps strep or scarlet fever (relatively normal childhood diseases). However, one of Kogan’s friends, and one of Kogan’s relatives, who was a pediatric cardiologist, both contacted her and said they feared her son had the dangerous Kawasaki disease, a decidedly abnormal disease. Kogan took her son to the hospital, and he was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease and was able to receive treatment early enough to save his life.
Again. In a news story that ran on AOL News, a woman arrived in an emergency room while having a massive heart attack. She told the doctors that she had been experiencing chest pains off and on for several weeks and had visited several doctors, and had been feeling dizzy recently – but before the doctors could get more information from her, she lapsed into a coma. She had no relatives nearby, so doctors called her son, who lived out-of-town. He was unable to provide much information about his mother’s condition, but then the doctors discovered the woman had a Facebook account.
On her Facebook wall, the comatose patient had kept meticulous notes of her doctor’s visits, her symptoms and the results over the past several weeks. Based on the digital information, the doctors were able to diagnose the woman with a hole in her heart and a cataclysmic series of mini-strokes. The woman underwent brain surgery immediately, and survived. She is currently undergoing speech and physical therapy. Had doctors not found her Facebook account, she would likely not have survived at all.
Michael Herper, of Forbes, also reported on the utility of crowdsourcing medicine, a brand new phenomenon. A woman who posted images on Facebook of her son’s medical condition once he was in the emergency room received a doctor’s diagnosis remotely that doctors in the ER may have missed. She was able to interface with hundreds of people simultaneously, allowing for collaboration and ultimately, vital information.
So, when a student is sitting in class, trolling Facebook, it may be the case that they are actually looking to save or be saved.