File picture: Engin Akyurt/Pixabay
File picture: Engin Akyurt/Pixabay

Doctors snap mid-surgery photos of patient's organs for 'Price Is Right' social media guessing game

By The Washington Post Time of article published Mar 16, 2021

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Paulina Villegas

One image shows a doctor posing with a large human organ in his hand while the patient lies on the operating table.

In another, a physician holds an organ that was surgically removed.

According to the NBC affiliate WOOD-TV, the photographs were shared on Instagram last week by a group of medical residents at Spectrum Health, in Grand Rapids, Michigan who asked the public to guess how much an unidentified organ weighed in a contest they equated to a game show event.

"The other game we play in the OR is guess that weight," read the Instagram post that showed the organ. "It applies to much more than just babies. As always, 'Price is Right' rules apply so if you go over then you're out!"

The residents referred to the game show in which contestants guessed the value of a prize.

Spectrum Health, a network that operates 14 hospitals in Michigan, has opened an investigation into the "unfortunate incident," and said it was "shocked and dismayed" when it learned that surgical images were posted on an Instagram account used by medical residents. It said its patients' trust and confidentiality "are paramount."

"This unacceptable behavior does not in any way reflect our organization, the outstanding professionalism of our medical staff or our resident physicians-in-training," the company said in statement sent to The Washington Post.

Spectrum Health said it was working toward "corrective action" but did not offer further details despite requests for clarification, including the potential consequences that doctors could face.

"These posts do not follow our code of excellence, our values or our expectations for team member behavior," the statement added. "We deeply value the trust that our patients have in us and we work to strengthen this bond every day."

The hospital did not clarify whether the residents, who are studying specialties in obstetrics and gynecology, have been put on probation or suspension. Spectrum did not clarify how many doctors were involved in the incident, nor did it respond to specific questions about their social media policies regarding patients.

The Instagram posts have been removed, and the account, which was not officially connected to Spectrum Health, was closed soon after the TV station contacted the residents Friday.

The group of medical residents used the Instagram handle @grandrapids_obgyn_residency and described itself as "residents from across the country who are training in their specialty at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids," according to WOOD-TV.

One of the photos displayed a doctor pointing to a long strand of fibrous tissue, after completing a procedure known as morcellation in which doctors mince fibroid - noncancerous tumours - with small incisions.

The TV station said that it blurred part the images to protect the privacy of the patient, but that the person was fully visible on Instagram.

"We get a little competitive when your . . . attending (physician) challenges you in morcellation. Longest one wins! Good work," the person who posted the picture wrote.

While some Instagram users engaged in the game of guessing the organ's weight, some were outraged by the doctors' behavior.

"And do you think the patient would appreciate you posting this? Did she agree for her body to be displayed on social media as part of your 'game?' " the person wrote, according to the station.

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