Does medic humour need to be curbed?
I recently stumbled across a BMJ blog about medical humour, and its potential pitfalls when shared online. Julian Sheather, author of the blog, warned about posting information that can identify patients without consent, and reminded doctors to maintain professional boundaries.1 Healthcare workers who had publicly discussed and joked about patients on social media had been in the news—in New Zealand, hospital staff are facing disciplinary action for making inappropriate comments.2 Of course, problems with workplace humour are not restricted to healthcare professionals. Allen and Ovary published a report about the extent and perception of workplace banter earlier this year, surveying a wide range of professions from education to construction.3 But is it unethical, insensitive, and immoral to make jokes about our patients and our profession? An article written by Des Spence, a GP in Glasgow, argues that the loss of medical “banter” from the workplace would be no laughing matter.4