Ethical issues when posting in social media about a critically ill or dying patient


The take off point for this week’s tweetchat is the very recent case of a popular Filipino Youtube sensation who died of lung cancer. Many pictures and videos of him while admitted in the hospital can be seen circulating in the net. (In fact, a Google image search of the celebrity’s name will reveal these pictures.) These were originally pics and videos posted in social media; a lot of them from his girlfriend as well as his girlfriend’s family from the time he was admitted, to the days leading to his death. They clearly showed the decline or deterioration of his health in graphic detail, complete with photos of the emaciated celebrity attached to a ventilator.

The said pics did not escape many netizens as they criticized especially the girlfriend and her family for “too much publicity” of the celebrity’s condition. (Not to mention that from the pics, it could be seen that infection control was an issue also since many guests were surrounding the patient.) However, an argument was made that the said photos and posts were to update the fans of her boyfriend’s condition.

There is also a different case — that of Lisa Bonchek Adams who herself tweets and blogs about what she goes through being someone with Stage 4 breast cancer. It was reported that a journalist couple found her posts offensive although others understood why Lisa made those posts.

In some cases, photos of critically ill patients including even critically ill infants are posted in social media to gain support.

Status posts or pics showing serious illness or the dying appear to get varying reactions.

These lead us to ask these questions,

T1 What concerns arise when patients post selfies and detailed status updates while in the hospital?

T2 What concerns arise when pictures/status updates about a dying person are posted to keep loved ones informed?

T3 Discuss ethical issues when stories of critically ill patients are posted on #SoMe to gain support.

Join us this Saturday, March 28, 9 PM Philippine time for another interesting conversation happening on the #HealthXPh tweetchat.


  1. jing gernale