The Meeting Place

Is social media hampering surgery?

A leading surgeon has called for doctors to be banned from using social media platforms like Snapchat in operating theatres, claiming the process is dangerous and becoming increasingly widespread.

Leading plastic surgeon Dr Laith Barnouti said he would like to see a blanket ban introduced after several health service providers, including Westmead Private Hospital, announced they were banning the use of social media among doctors.

“The use of Snapchat and other similar Apps during surgery should be banned,” Dr Barnouti said.

“We need a total blanket ban on the use of Snapchat during medical procedures.

“If a surgeon is using Snapchat during surgery, it means they are downing tools, halting their work to pick up a phone and take images in the operating theatre, while a patient is lying on the table. This is not only unethical but interfering with the progress of the surgery.

“It could seriously compromise the outcome of the surgery and it is a distraction for the surgeon.

“Surgeons should be focusing on the health and welfare of their patient, not thinking about sending Snapchat messages in the middle of a complex operation.

“The patient isn’t able to give their consent to a picture being taken while under general anaesthetic.

“The other issue is that phones and other mobile devices are contaminated with all sorts of germs and bacteria. In fact, they have been found to hold more bacteria than the average public toilet.

“I engage in the use of social media before and after operations with the consent of my patients where there is a benefit in sharing and celebrating the outcome, but I absolutely don’t agree with using apps to share photos during operations. This is unethical and should be banned completely.

 “There are many surgeons that are doing it and it is creating unnecessary risk. 

 “More needs to be done to ban the use of Snapchat and other similar apps in operating theatres.

 “The Government and associated health bodies need to develop a blanket ban and impose fines for any doctors and professionals using Snapchat and other Apps during operations.

“We urgently need this for safety and ethical reasons.”

Would you be happy with a doctor sending Snapchat updates from your operation? Should the process be banned? Is there a medical benefit from sharing information with other doctors?



This is monstrous...unbelievable that it is allowed...I think doctors who do this are not giving their undivided attention to the patient on the operating table.

Patients should be asked whether they want their operations sent all over the place and if done without permission..doctors should face legal prosecution...

I am quite sure many patients do not realise this is happening...

Appallng behaviour by any surgeon doing this!  

If the procedure requires photographing use a suitable camera operated by a trained professional (medical photographer) and the full informed consent of the patient should be clearly documented with a copy of any images available for viewing by the patient if they wish. 

Any behaviour that could add to procedure length and cause distraction from the task in hand is unforgivable. It adds to the risk of the procedure and possibly increases post-op infection rates.

Who is educating these Doctors? Where are their ethics?

Yes I have been a Theatre Nurse and it makes me sad that activities lke this should be tolerated. 

I have to agree, this is unconscionable behaviour. Even having a basic mobile phone in surgery at all should be banned.

As for photographing someone under anaesthetic for uploading to social media; that should be against the law if it isn't already.

It also makes me wonder what germs are passed on because of touching the phone -- as phones are notorious for being covered in grot -- as they are handled all day along with money etc etc.

I say concentrate on the operation you are doing and do it right!

Germs? That's the least of your troubles. A small mobile phone can be lodged in a man's stomach. Look at this.

An x-ray showing the mobile 

Well, that sure says a lot about the operating staff!

Jeepers Ben, how did it get there?

Just a small thought -  If the mobile phone is waterproof - could it still ring inside you?  

I think the strong stomach acid would soon wreck it HOLA -- also make cause the phone and the metals inside it to wreck YOU as well

PlanB - Thanks for your information - now I feel rather silly asking such a dumb question.

HOLA there is NEVER a dumb question ; ))