Telemedicine and e-Health
The use of Facebook is ubiquitous among both patients and physicians. Often Facebook intrudes into medical practice, thereby highlighting its potential to be either a positive or negative factor in a patient's medical care. Despite being a “hot topic” in the medical literature, very few real world examples exist of physicians actually using information obtained from Facebook to reach a diagnosis or otherwise affect patient care. We present a case involving a 13-year-old girl who posted photographs and captions on Facebook demonstrating suicidal ideation. The patient's parents were alerted to the girl's statements in her Facebook profile and brought her to the emergency department. The girl's statements and photographs, as reported by her parents, were used by an emergency physician to make a diagnosis of suicidal risk and to disposition of the patient to an inpatient psychiatric ward. We discuss the potential diagnostic utility of information posted on Facebook and briefly discuss the ethical questions surrounding this situation.
[Epub ahead of print]