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On social media, an essay about the treatment of US healthcare workers is drawing a fiery response on Twitter, clinicians on Reddit describe the everyday harsh reality of dealing with COVID-19, while a virtual medical meeting earlier this week got a “meh” reaction.

Twitter Anger Over the Treatment of Healthcare Workers

“The handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US will go down as the worst public health disaster in the history of the country,” Eric Topol, MD, Medscape’s editor-in-chief, wrote in an essay posted on the site on Monday. “Perhaps what we in the medical community will remember most is how our country betrayed us at the moment when our efforts were needed most.”

Twitter users wholeheartedly agree with Topol. Many of the hundreds of replies and reposts across the Twitterverse thanked him for telling it like it is, often expressing anger for the poor treatment of the men and women working ― while putting themselves in harm’s way ― to save patients sick with the coronavirus.

“A sobering yet heartbreaking piece of writing. I am saddened to think that an army of ideologically driven deniers will soon attempt to efface the stark truths spoken here,” a reply tweet to Topol by nephrologist Satoshi Akima, MD, read.

Additional highlights from the responses can be seen here:



Reddit Reality Check

“How has CoV changed your daily routine in the hospital? What do you do to feel safe?,” a user asked the /r/medicine Reddit community of over 200,000 medical professionals from around the world. The dozens of replies are a window into what healthcare workers are going through.

“I am constantly thinking about the last thing I touched and which hand is clean or dirty. I hate to talk on my phone or text now because I feel like I have to sanitize before touching my phone,” said El Duderino Ohio, the thread’s original author.

Dozens of Redditors replied, including ProfessionalChapter0, who wrote, “I wear a surgical mask throughout the whole work day except to eat. In addition to hand washing and purell, I wipe down my stethoscope, badge, phone, pen and keys with sanicloth every time I leave a unit or a floor. After work I disrobe in the laundry/mud room, toss my clothes in washer and run upstairs to shower.”

And this from an anesthesiologist who goes by the handle, Ladyratri: “I used to wear my own scrubs. No more, using hospital scrubs only. I used to have a bag with some supplies, digital tablet etc. that I’d carry with me. No more. I carry the minimum I need with me, phone, car keys, wallet, a pen. The bag sits at home, unused. I used to eat a lot of meals in the doctor’s dining rooms at the facilities I work in. No more. I eat all my meals at home now. I wash my hands about a million times as often as I used to. Multiple times within a case if there’s any question. I wash the hell out of my phone, and the I.D. badges I carry. Multiple times a day….”

Virtual Meeting Doesn’t Go Viral

WIth at least 55 medical meetings canceled so far this season, the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session was one of the first to shift to a virtual presentation. Based on hashtag usage, interest was tepid compared to last year.

The official hashtag for the 2019 conference, #ACC19 and “sub-hashtags,” such as #ACC2019, were tweeted out nearly 45,000 times by about 9400 unique Twitter accounts over a 5-day period from March 15th through March 19th, 2019, a date range that encompasses the conference plus 1 day before and after.

This year, #WCCcardio and #ACCvirtual were commonly used in addition to the conference’s official #ACC20 hashtag. Combined, they were tweeted out just shy of 14,000 times by about 4200 unique Twitter accounts for a similar period between March 27th and March 31st, 2020. Data were compiled using Symplur, a healthcare social media monitoring service.

Twitter aside, the online sessions did enjoy a brisk viewership, with 38,000 unique participants accessing the program over the 3-day period compared to the 18,000 who attended “in real life” last year, ACC spokesperson Nicole Napoli told Medscape Medical News.

Direct comparisons are hard to make since the virtual conference was free and the in-person was not, Napoli said. The 2020 program is available on demand for the next 90 days.

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 lneporent@medscape.net or @ lizzyfit on Twitter.

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