Facebook Profile Helps Save Patient's Life

Doctors at a Wisconsin hospital were able to save a woman's life with the information she'd posted on her Facebook account.

A patient’s Facebook profile supplied her doctors with enough information to save her life.

According to an AOL opinion article co-authored by Dr. Kamal Thaparm, the neurosurgeon who saved her life at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, data from this patient’s Facebook account offered more details about her health than her medical records.

The patient, a 56-year-old single mother, fell into a coma after suffering a massive stroke that caused paralysis, and doctors had determined she’d had prior strokes plus fluid around her heart. She appeared to be headed for an early death.

Hospital staff scrounged for additional relevant information about the woman, who lived far away from her family members. They talked to her son and that appears to be how her practitioners found out about the woman’s Facebook account containing “diarylike” postings.

These posts supplied far more details about the woman’s health than any of her medical records, and did so in her own words. Her profile and updates included several months of descriptions about how she felt, what was occurring with her body, which medications she took, what her symptoms were and hospitalization incidents — all of them with date and timestamps.

The data helped the hospital staff figure out that the patient had a hole in her heart and that blood clots had circulated to her brain, which caused the strokes.

As a result she underwent brain surgery and a subsequent treatment plan that eventually brought her out of the coma. Today she continues to do physical and speech therapy. Clearly the patient wouldn’t have gotten to this point without having had a Facebook account populated with her medical details.

Her story really presents the sunny side of the issue of privacy that so many people complain about with respect to the social network. How do you feel about Facebook after reading this story?

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