In an especially unsettling example of bad medical humor on Facebook, Kansas radiologist Dr. Milton Wolf recently admitted to posting several graphic images of patients. In one case, he uploaded an image of a man who had been shot in the temple as well as an X-ray that showed bullet fragments scattered throughout the man’s brain. Wolf went on to comment that the man wouldn’t be able to complain about having his X-ray taken. In another case, he posted a picture of a patient who was nearly decapitated, saying, “What kind of gun blows someone’s head off completely? I gotta get one of those.”
That and a couple other breaches of professional and human decorum on Facebook in pursuit of humor made news because Wolf is a serious contender for a U.S. Senate position. The Tea Party-aligned physician is also the author of a book titled First, Do No Harm: The President's cousin explains why his Hippocratic Oath requires him to oppose Obamacare. Wolf and Obama are second cousins once removed.
Making fun of seriously injured patients is actually the inverse of what’s scientifically proven to work well as a joke on Facebook, according to an extraordinary recent study from Dartmouth. Matt Davis with the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice led the recent study of how humor works on Facebook. They did what they call the first study of social networking conversations pertaining to health and medicine to examine the prevalence, characteristics, and success of doctor jokes posted on the site, which was recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.