Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
Social media highlights for medical professionals so far this week include celebration dances for recovering patients, hashtags dedicated to nurses, and private Facebook groups.
Hospital Staffs Celebrate With Happy Dances
With all the despair COVID-19 has spread throughout the medical community, some joyful posts stand out on social media: Care teams from around the world have been tweeting out their celebrations when a patient turns a corner.
In this tweet, a Turkish medical team (still dressed in full PPE) does a peppy “penguin dance” to celebrate the release of a patient who beat the coronavirus ― that’s the patient in the center.
Turkish medical stuff do penguin dance as patient leaves hospital after beating coronavirus
A group of healthcare workers couldn't hold back their joy and performed a 'Penguin Dance' to celebrate the discharge of a coronavirus patient in Turkey's northwestern Kırklareli. pic.twitter.com/9QsVr4vr10
— #RamadanMubarak (@arwidodo) April 12, 2020
This tweet from a Chinese hospital captures a 5-year-old’s thank you bop for the care team who looked after her for 16 days while she fought a coronavirus infection.
Cute little 5 year old girl does a happy dance to thank the doctors and nurses who looked after her for 16 days while she was infected with coronavirus. She was discharged from the hospital in Hubei. #2019nC0V #China #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/UqFnK48YuV
— Shana M (@shana2727) February 19, 2020
And this happy dance was posted by the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center intensive care team in Los Angeles. They put on a show in the hospital’s hallway every time a patient comes off of a ventilator.
Yes, patients do recover from #COVID19 #ARDS. And yes, my #ICU team does do an #extubation dance every time we liberate someone from a #Ventilator. #ARDSAvengers #coronavirus #bestteamever @uclaimchiefs @UCLAHealth @atscommunity @GiladJaffe @HungryDes @NoCoughEng pic.twitter.com/axgV7pOTXU
— Nida Qadir, MD (@NidaQadirMD) April 6, 2020
Hashtags for Nurses Caring for Coronavirus Patients
You can see how nurses are responding to the coronavirus pandemic by following a few key hashtags on Twitter.
Nurses and their supporters have been using #protectnurses to highlight their protests against state and local governments. For example, when a few dozen nurses representing the National Nurses United union marched in Washington, DC, this past weekend to demand adequate personal protective gear, they used the hashtag to get the word out.
This is what solidarity looks like!
The Santa Monica, CA community came out in full force yesterday to demand the return of 10 Saint John's Hospital nurses who were suspended for requesting PPE.#ProtectNurses #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/rkLEkwtIJ0
— Bonnie Castillo (@NNUBonnie) April 22, 2020
Nurses include the hashtag #Covidnurses in tweets that describe their experiences from the hospital front lines.
Guys, every time a patient comes off of a ventilator at my hospital they play the Rocky theme over the loudspeaker and I’ve cried twice thank you very much!
#covidnurses #coronavirus #covid19 pic.twitter.com/yhIMEBeIq8
— Nurse Patrick (@NursePatrickQ) April 22, 2020
Medical Pros Go Private to Exchange COVID-19 Info
COVID-19 information changes so rapidly, it’s often outdated before it’s published in a peer-reviewed journal. To get around that lag, physicians are turning to private Facebook groups to stay apace.
British emergency medicine specialist Dan O’Carroll, MD, says he’s joined several of these groups to swap ideas with a “hive mind” of other physicians working with coronavirus patients.
“They seem to be very much an international forum of reputable professionals that are putting good information out,” O’Carroll told Medscape Medical News.
One such group, EM Docs, currently has over 20,000 members. Another group, called the PMG COVID19 Subgroup, has more than 30,000 physician members worldwide. Both of these “secret” groups are invitation-only and are exclusive to physicians. They don’t appear in Facebook searches, and the only way to gain entrance is by being invited by a current member.
Other coronavirus info exchange groups on Facebook are private but without the cloak of invisibility; they appear in the Facebook search engine but require administrator access. Some of the less restrictive groups welcome all levels of healthcare professionals and have quickly grown to over 100,000 members.
Meanwhile, the public Facebook feeds are so polluted with false claims and scams that the company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, has been forced to remove millions of posts, label millions more as suspicious or misleading, and inform users when they’ve clicked on a hoax, experts report.
Can you find reliable clinical information on other social media platforms? O’Carroll says yes. Twitter, with its use of hashtags curated specifically for the medical community, can be especially helpful, though O’Carroll cautions that it can sometimes be an echo chamber ― and sifting through the conspiracy theories and bad information can be a challenge. Linkedin and WhatsApp can provide a useful way to communicate with colleagues from countries like Mexico and Brazil where Facebook and Twitter aren’t as popular.
Liz Neporent is Medscape’s executive editor of social media and community. She has previously worked at ABC News National as well as other major news outlets. She’s based in New York City and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @lizzyfit on Twitter.