Dangers of Web 2.0: In Medicine

I’ve written more than 200 posts about web 2.0 and medicine, but I almost never focus on the dangers web 2.0 can cause to medical professionals and patients. The first time I talked about this important subject was at the School of Medicine, at Yale. And they liked it. So let’s see what kind of problems, dangers we have to face while using web 2.0 in medicine and the tools we have to fight against these with.

Medical Blogosphere:

The Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics was designed in response to problems experienced by medical bloggers. The goal of this code is twofold

  1. To give the readers of a medical blogger a clear idea of the standards by which the blog is maintained.
  2. To give bloggers (especially anonymous ones) a clear set of guidelines they can show employers, patients, or other concerned parties as to the nature of the blogging.

Since healthcare blogging is sometimes dealing with extremely sensitive information, it is extremely important that these blogs maintain the highest of integrity.Member

Health On the Net Foundation is the leading organization promoting and guiding the deployment of useful and reliable online medical and health information, and its appropriate and efficient use. Created in 1995, HON is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, accredited to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.


Physicians must assure that the case report does not contain any of the 18 health information identifiers noted in the HIPAA regulations, unless authorization from the individual (s) has been obtained. The authorization is not required if neither of the 18 identifiers below are used in the case report.

Medical Wikis:

  • Wikipedia: We, medical editors in Wikipedia, work hard to ensure the quality of our articles. We only focus on inserting proper peer-reviewed references into our medical articles. In this post, I mentioned plenty of projects and tools with which we fight against false medical information in the online encyclopaedia.


AskDrWiki.com users must be credentialed based on their medical training before they are allowed to publish. All new users will be required to submit their medical training, degree, and current hospital or medical school. All credentialed users will be listed on the editorial board and are encouraged to publish their resume or curriculum vitae stating their education, medical training, board certification, and research. This process will remove the transparency of anonymous article creation and provide an extra level or credibility.


Second Life, the virtual world:

I’m currently working on a page that would be totally dedicated to the credentials of the members of the Ann Myers Medical Center. If you see a medical project in Second Life or you meet doctors there, always ask them to provide some credentials.


Medical Cases:

If you would like to analyze medical cases, use peer-reviewed sources like the one at Clinical Cases and Images.

Medical Search Engines:

Search engines (like Google or Yahoo) don’t select among sources, that’s why many of the medical search results can’t be relevant. But medical search engines use peer-reviewed sources and sites selected by experts providing the most relevant and reliable medical information of the best quality. Check out Healthline or MedHunt!



I’m pretty sure the only way we can fight against pseudoscience and medical quackery is to take control of publishing medical information of the web. And by using these tools to ensure the quality of medical articles and blogs on the web, medical professionals can also build their online reputation.

Please let me know if you happen to know other tools or dangers!

Further reading: