A Michigan health network said it had opened an investigation after some doctors in the operating room posted photos on social media last week showing they had surgically removed organ and tissue material in hand as part of a game that compared it to "The Price Is Right".
Doctors who work as medical residents at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology, asked people how much an unidentified organ weighed, according to one of the Instagram posts posted by NBC – Daughter WOOD received – TELEVISION.
The station said it blurred part of the picture in that post so people couldn't tell what type of organ was featured in the post, which was publicly shared.
The broadcasts appeared to show at least one patient in the background, the broadcaster reported. They were dismantled shortly after the ward contacted medical residents on Friday.
"The other game we play in the operating room is guessing that weight," the post said. “It applies to a lot more than just babies. As always, the rules for "the right price" apply. So if you think about it, you are out! "
The doctor was referring to the television game show's long-standing rule that contestants who overestimate the value of a prize are disqualified.
Spectrum Health, which operates 14 hospitals in West Michigan, three of which are in Grand Rapids, said in a statement Sunday evening that patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance.
"We were shocked and dismayed to learn that surgical images were posted on an Instagram account that is not officially affiliated with Spectrum Health and was used by a group of medical residents," the statement said. "This unacceptable behavior in no way reflects our organization, the outstanding professionalism of our medical staff or our practicing doctors in private practice."
It wasn't immediately clear which hospital or how many doctors were involved in the episode. None of the doctors involved were identified. The Instagram handle used by the medics was @grandrapids_obgyn_residency.
"We are actively and fully investigating this unfortunate incident," said Spectrum Health. “These contributions are not in line with our Code of Excellence, our values, or our expectations of team member behavior. We value our patients' trust in us very much and work every day to strengthen this bond. "
Another photo shared publicly by the medical professionals on Instagram shows a doctor pointing at a strand of tissue after a patient underwent surgery to remove uterine fibroids, which are usually benign tumors, but which are hide a dangerous type of cancer.
The doctor had just completed a procedure known as morcellation, in which a surgeon usually uses a tool with a rotating blade to cut tissue so it can be extracted through small incisions. The technique has been the subject of intense medical debate: some say it can spread cancer while others say the procedure is less invasive than alternatives.
The doctor wrote that medical residents could be a little competitive if the attending doctor challenged them in morcellation, the station reported.
"Longest wins!" The broadcaster quoted the post with the words. "Good work."
Arthur Caplan, professor of medical ethics at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine, said in an interview on Sunday that the social media posts could prompt serious disciplinary action against the doctors, which could potentially result in the loss of their license .
"It is certainly a serious violation of ethics," he said. "There is absolutely no excuse for turning something that should be treated seriously and with respect into some kind of silly carnival."
Many patients still view tissues or organs that have been surgically removed as part of themselves, especially female reproductive organs, said Dr. Caplan. Posting a photo with a patient, partially visible in an operating room, crossed a line.
"We try to explain that a key aspect of professionalism is always respect for the patient and understanding that patients have a strong sense of their body and intimacy," he said.
At least one person complained about the Instagram posts before they were removed.
"And do you think the patient would appreciate it if you post that?" The TV station quoted the person in a comment under the organ photo. "Has she agreed to have her body featured on social media as part of your 'game'?"