Webcast your brain surgery for the hospital marketing department?

The point of Shila Renee Mullins’s brain surgery was to remove a malignant tumor threatening to paralyze her left side.

But Methodist University Hospital in Memphis also saw an opportunity to promote the hospital to prospective patients.

So, a video Webcast of Ms. Mullins’s awake craniotomy, in which the patient remains conscious and talking while surgeons prod and cut inside her brain, was promoted with infomercials and newspaper advertisements featuring a photograph of a beautiful model, not Ms. Mullins.

This time, Methodist did not use billboards as it has with other operations, deeming this procedure too sensitive. But its marketing department monitors how many people have watched the Webcast (2,212), seen a preview on YouTube (21,555) and requested appointments (3)…

Some ethicists and physicians say the practices raise questions about patient privacy and could paint overly-rosy medical pictures, leaving the hospitals and patients vulnerable if things go awry.

Jeffrey P. Kahn, a University of Minnesota bioethicist, sees “value in demystifying medical care,” but said this “creates an aura of sophistication and high-tech ability” that may not represent “quality of care at a hospital.”

Do we really want to treat health care like other consumer goods?” he asked.

RTFA. If you’re affronted by all the jive commercials selling you wonder drugs every hour on television – you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

Modern medicine in America is depicted in the article as just another commodity. It’s been a long spell since I worked in a hospital – and the HMO and individual physicians I deal with for personal care aren’t guilty of this kind of crass greed. But, then, that would be part of the quotient that determines for me whether or not I continue to use a particular physician or medical service.

But – the doctor who is Twittering to his followers during surgery on a particularly difficult malignant kidney tumor? I don’t think my life is worth paying his membership at whichever country club he belongs to.

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