- A paper in the Journal of Vascular Surgery has come under fire for suggesting it is unprofessional for health workers to post swimwear photos and photos with alcohol to social media.
- The study—which was conducted by three men using fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—has been criticized as “sexist.” Some have also even equated the methods to cyberstalking.
- The authors of the study later asked for their own paper to be retracted amid backlash, and the journal has since issued that retraction.
- Even after it was retracted, many argued that on top of the sexism, people should also take issue with the fact that the study listed discussing topics like abortion and gun control as unprofessional.
Journal Study Follows Health Professionals’ Posts
It’s no secret that many people worry about how their social media accounts may affect their job, but now, many health professionals are challenging those norms after a controversial study suggested that posting photos in a bikini is unprofessional.
That study—“Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons”—targeted 480 surgeons and found social media accounts for 235 of them. Researchers with the study then tracked the posts of those doctors in an attempt to find “either clearly unprofessional or potentially unprofessional content.”
In all, researchers said they found at least potentially unprofessional content in around a quarter of those 235 accounts.
But what researchers constituted as unprofessional ranged widely. For example, “offensive comments about colleagues/work/patients” or posts where the surgeons appeared to be drunk were deemed clearly unprofessional.
However, much more controversially, the researchers also included the display of any form of alcohol—even if just a glass of wine at a restaurant—in the potentially unprofessional category. They also included “inappropriate attire,” such as “pictures in underwear, provocative Halloween costumes, and provocative posing in bikinis/swimwear.”
The study was originally conducted in January and February 2018. It was then published online in December 2019, but it largely flew under the radar until it was published in the journal’s August 2020 edition.
According to the authors, the goal of this paper was to: “evaluate the extent of unprofessional social media content among recent vascular surgery fellows and residents.”
That’s because “it has been demonstrated that publicly available social media content may affect patient choice of physician, hospital, and medical facility.”
To conduct the study, three “screeners” created fake accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to track the surgeons. Notably, all three screeners were men, ranging from ages 28 to 37.
In its conclusion, the study warns that “young surgeons should be aware of the permanent public exposure of unprofessional content that can be accessed by peers, patients, and current/future employers.”
It also notes that neither men nor women were more likely to post unprofessional content.
Outrage From Medical Professionals
The study has received near-universal backlash from health professionals online, with many reiterating that the targeted accounts were all viewed by men using fake accounts of their own.
“They are shaming our women physician colleagues for wearing bikinis,” Mudit Chowdhary, a radiation oncology chief resident physician, said on Twitter.
Alongside that, many health professionals accused the study of employing cyberstalking tactics in its methods.
Most notably, many female medical professionals responded by using #MedBikini on social media, where they posted so-called “unprofessional” photos of themselves in bikinis.
“I am a woman in medicine who loves to travel to tropical locations and dress accordingly. I will not wear my white coat and scrubs to Hawaii,” one third year medical student said on Twitter. “This does not make me unprofessional or less intelligent or compassionate compared to my male colleagues.”
Many others also took a moment to criticize the notion that posting a photo next to or holding a glass of alcohol is unprofessional.
“Here I am from a social media post last summer… being inappropriate & enjoying my sangria,” Pediatric Pain Psychologist Christine Sieberg said.
Authors Ask to Retract Study
The backlash was so strong that by Friday, the authors of the study called for their own paper to be retracted.
“Our intent was to empower surgeons to be aware and then personally decide what may be easily available for patients and colleagues to see about us,” One of the authors, Thomas Cheng, said in an apology on Twitter.
“However, this was not the result. We realize that the definition of professionalism is rapidly changing in medicine and that we need to support trainees and surgeons as our society changes.”
“Also, we realize that our design had significant gender bias, particularly with men assessing the appropriateness of women’s clothing.”
“We were wrong not to have considered the inherent gender bias and have certainly learned from this experience. We will do better in the future and teach others from our experience.”
However, we were wrong not to have considered the inherent gender bias and have certainly learned from this experience. We will do better in the future and teach others from our experience.— Thomas Cheng (@twtcheng) July 24, 2020
A spokesperson for the Boston Medical Center—where six of the seven authors have ties—also called the paper “ill-conceived” and “poorly executed,” saying it “reinforces biases about professionalism and gender.”
Following that, the journal issued a statement retracting the article and apologizing for unconscious bias.
Criticism Against Paper’s View on Political Issues
Even after the study was retracted, some health professionals expressed additional concern. That’s because while the focus on sexism was the main narrative of the outrage, they worried that another controversial line in the article was being glossed over.
Specifically, the authors of the study flagged politically-charged issues such as abortion and gun control as being potentially unprofessional topics, labelling them “controversial social comments.”
“While people were rightfully incensed about the sexism inherent in saying posing in swimwear and provocative clothing was unprofessional,” medical student Stephanie Quainoo said, “little attention was paid to the fact that metrics included under potentially unprofessional behavior included: controversial political comments, controversial social topics and controversial religious comments.”
“Professionalism is often used to police the speech of trainees and professionals, to quiet dissenting opinions, and protect the images of institutions when they are called out for wrongdoing,” she added.
The recent article in the Journal of Vascular Surgery opened the floor for conversations about what it means to be unprofessional in medicine. And while people were rightfully incensed about the sexism inherent in saying posing in swimwear and provocative clothing was— Stephanie Quainoo (@stephquainoo) July 26, 2020
Some have also made sure to note that both gun control and abortion are healthcare issues.
Agree focus on bikinis wasn’t best way to resist, but article didn’t just call out bathing suits. #BLM likely fell under the “controversial” political or social comments, and doctors speaking out re: abortion & gun control (which are both healthcare issues) were called out, too. pic.twitter.com/ExxUUtIEBN— Naomi Wagner (@Naomi_CGC) July 26, 2020
See what others are saying: (The Boston Globe) (CNN) (Daily Dot)
Mother and Boyfriend Charged After Abandoning 3 Children in Apartment With Sibling’s Remains
Authorities said the malnourished children had been living in the unit without their parents for months.
Abandoned Children Discovered in Houston
Police in Texas arrested a mother and her boyfriend on Tuesday after finding the woman’s three children abandoned in an apartment unit with the remains of their sibling.
Authorities found the 7-, 10-, and 15-year-old boys on Sunday when the teen called police to report that his brother had been dead for a year and that his body was in the unit.
When authorities arrived at the scene, they found the children living in “deplorable conditions.” Police also found the skeletal remains of an 8-year-old, who they emphasized had been decomposing for an extended period of time.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the boys were fending for each other, with the eldest doing his best to care for the younger ones. According to the teen, his parents hadn’t been living in the apartment with them for months.
Gonzales called it one of the most shocking cases he had ever seen in all his years in law enforcement, and many are now asking how these kids could have been suffering for so long without anyone ever noticing.
Signs That Went Unnoticed
The Daily Beast reported that the kids hadn’t been attending school since May 2020, claiming that the school even conducted an unsuccessful home visit in September of that year.
On top of that, the children had been without power for several weeks, with one neighbor telling local reporters that the teen would often charge his phone at her place.
Another neighbor, Erica Chapman, said she had once found the teen sleeping on a playground slide, so she gave him some food and drinks.
“I asked him if he was hungry. He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I brought him out some food and some drinks,” Chapman told KHOU.
She said he “wouldn’t talk about his parents,” and she didn’t push because she wanted him to feel safe coming to her if he needed food. Chapman added that she would drop off food at the apartment sometimes but said it was hard to tell what was going on inside.
Police also described a foul odor coming from the unit, which a different neighbor said she complained to management about more than once. That woman claimed the smell was so vile, she could not turn on her air conditioning.
Dianne Davis, who lived in the complex for two years, told The Houston Chronicle that the building manager performs regular inspections on the units, with the most recent one happening last week.
“How come they couldn’t detect this?” Davis told the paper. “How could that not have been found?”
Mother and Boyfriend Face Charges
According to Child Protective Services (CPS), the agency does have a history with the family, but there was no active investigation at the time the kids were discovered.
After they were found, the boys were treated at a hospital and placed with CPS while the agency seeks emergency custody of them.
At the hospital, doctors discovered fractures in the 7-year-old face and said two of the three boys were malnourished. Meanwhile, the medical examiner’s office said the deceased child suffered multiple blunt force injuries and ruled his death a homicide.
Police located the mother, 35-year-old Gloria Williams, and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Brian Coulter, on Sunday. They were interviewed and initially released without charges.
ABC13 reported that the teen texted his mother, who lived just 15 minutes, before calling the police.
On Tuesday, the couple was finally arrested while allegedly reading articles about themselves at a library. Williams, faces multiple charges, including injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence involving a human corpse.
Meanwhile, Coulter was charged with murder over the death of the child, though both he and Williams are expected to face more charges as investigators continue to unpack the details of this case.
See what others are saying: (The Houston Chronicle) (The Daily Beast) (The Washington Post)
Man Spent COVID Relief Loan on $58,000 Pokemon Card, Feds Say
The man is facing a wire fraud charge, which carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
COVID Relief Funds Used on Pokemon Card
Authorities have accused a man in Georgia of misusing COVID-19 relief funds, claiming that he spent $57,789 on a single Pokemon card.
Prosecutors said Vinath Oudomsine made false statements about the gross revenue his business earns and the number of workers he employs when he applied for aid authorized under the CARES Act.
On his July 2020 application, Oudomsine allegedly claimed he had 10 employees and 12-month gross revenues of $235,000.
The following month, he was given about $85,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which means he spent nearly all of the money on the rare card.
Authorities have given few details about the specific card purchased, though they have said Oudomsine was charged with wire fraud and is expected to appear in court on Thursday.
The charge carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
Misuse of COVID Relief Funds
Oudomsine is far from the first person to face charges for fraud related to small business loans issued amid the pandemic. Others who received relief funds have been accused of spending the money on Lamborghinis, nights at strip clubs, and even an alpaca farm, among other purchases.
In fact, the first person to be charged with fraudulently seeking a pandemic relief loan was recently sentenced to 56 months in prison following a nationwide search after the man faked his own death.
According to The Washington Post, a federal watchdog said this month that the SBA overpaid $4.5 billion in grants to self-employed people and that “no system of controls was in place to flag applications with flawed or illogical information.”
On top of that, the SBA inspector general determined earlier this year that the agency rushed to send out billions of dollars in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) “at the expense of controls” that could have blocked inappropriate aid.
In a statement on Sunday, the agency said that under the Biden administration, it has worked with Congress and the inspector general to add antifraud measures. Meanwhile, defenders of pandemic relief programs have argued that flagged loans and grants represent only a small fraction of the distributed aid that has been critical to small businesses and their pandemic recovery.
See what others are saying: (NPR)(USA Today)(The Washington Post)
FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses
The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.
New FDA Authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.
The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.
Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.
Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.
Hazy Recommendations, For Now
Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.
The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.
In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.
However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.
An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.
Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.