RESOURCE: Is It Time To Get on Twitter?
Late one night in 2011, University of Buffalo pediatric surgeon Philip Glick, MD, received a call from his resident on call, telling him that a child who had been on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for several days, now had air tracking back through the venous cannula.
Dr. Glick, a professor of surgery, pediatrics, OB/GYN and management, rushed to the pediatric ICU and his team gathered around the child’s bed. Everyone was baffled; no one, including Dr. Glick, had seen anything like it. The only option he could come up with was to turn off the ventilator, as the child also was on heart-lung bypass support.
“It was 4:30 in the morning,” he said, recounting the story during a session of the 2012 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). “The sun was about to come up. I was very tired. I called the ECMO hotline; no explanation. I did a PubMed search; nothing published. Lastly, I sent out a tweet asking if anyone in the universe had had a patient with pertussis on ECMO who had what I was describing as a pulmonary bronchial pulmonary artery fistula.”
When Dr. Glick woke up a few hours later, he’d received an answer from a surgeon from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. “He had a series of patients, yet to be published, with pertussis who had similar experiences and he said ‘what you may have is a patient with a totally necrotic lung.’”
That is a real-life example of how Twitter can help surgeons access information not readily available from traditional sources, Dr. Glick said. “This surgeon hadn’t even published this information yet. He knew exactly what was wrong, exactly what I should do and I shared it with my patient and [the child’s] family who needed it.”