A Moral Obligation

This is a portion of my conversation with Dr. Mike Sevilla about the measles outbreak and the role of the medical community with respect to online discussion about things like vaccinations. My question to him, and to you my eager-readers, is do you think medical professionals have a moral obligation to speak up when misinformation is spreading online? While the Hippocratic Oath is more an abstract set of principles than a specific code of conduct these days, do you think these types of interactions are an extension of the Hippocratic Oath?

I’m curious about what makes people want to speak up in certain situations. Obviously the discussion around vaccinations is prime time as a result of the measles outbreak, despite the fact that “there is not a causal relationship between certain vaccine types and autism”. But would a flurry of doctors on social media, like the #MeaslesTruth TwitterStorm, linking to the CDC and citing other credible, reliable sources do anything to curb the hysteria? Where is the tipping point in this type of conversation that would result in rational decision making by the general public?

How might we better use social media to counteract social panic? How might we better leverage the inherent trust we place in our medical professionals to spread facts when they are most needed?

Continue reading