This week on #MedTwitter: Pay gaps, dismissive mothers, anti-vax doctors

By Diana Duong and Dr. Sharon Vorona

From the late nights to the constant pressure to be perfect, medicine can feel awfully isolating. But as it turns out, physicians have a lot in common with each other. Digital communities—like Twitter and, of course, this one—help physicians voice their doubts, vulnerabilities, frustrations, or just find comfort and connection through sharing what’s on their mind.

This weekly feature is meant to bring you closer to the medical community, or at least know what your peers are talking about. (Call it a physicians’ lounge, if you will. We talked more about the need for those here.)

Here, we gathered some of the hottest conversations on #MedTwitter this week.


Mothers not taking medical advice from their physician children

U.K. general practitioner Dr. Amir Khan tweeted about how his mother would rather “ring one of her mates and get some advice about some old Indian herbal remedy” than take her son’s medical advice—despite him having been a qualified doctor for 15 years.

Dr. Jen Gunter, a Canadian-American obstetrician-gynecologist, pain medicine physician, and Twitter’s “resident gynecologist,” chimed in saying her mother has also never sought medical advice from her, questioning why the New York Times would want Dr. Gunter as a contributor. It’s a shared experience many physicians have gone through, with one commenter noting, “there is no pleasing some mums.”


White House stokes fear over “lethal dose” of fentanyl

This week, Dr. Ryan Marino, a U.S. emergency physician and medical toxicologist, called out a tweet from the official U.S. White House account for its inaccuracy.

The White House posted a photo of a penny next to the powder claiming the amount pictured was a lethal dose while adding in mention of the quantity of fentanyl recently seized at the “southern border.” The White House tweet ended saying, “This is a national emergency.” Commenters noted the unnecessary fear-mongering nature of the tweet, give the drugs were seized at an official port of entry.

Dr. Marino also noted the tweet is inaccurate because the exact lethal dose of fentanyl is not known, nor has the median lethal dose (LD50) ever been proven.


Healthcare’s gender pay gap among the biggest

Three of the top 10 occupations with the largest pay gap in the U.S. are in medicine: physicians and surgeons, registered nurses, and medical and health service managers. According to the American Association of University Women, where the data was taken from, female physicians and surgeons see 71% of what their male counterparts are paid. Time’s Up Healthcare noted that the gap widens even more for women of color and with age.

Pay disparity is just one of the many inequalities women in healthcare face. Unprofessional introductions, racial slurs, sexual harassment and even violence are common experiences women in medicine have shared with Figure 1. Read more here.


The one pediatrician responsible for one-third of San Diego’s vaccine exemptions

U.S. pediatrician Dr. Jaime Friedman shared a story from the Voice of San Diego that found that Dr. Tara Zandvliet, a pediatrician in San Diego, has written 486 medical exemptions for parents who do not want their children to receive vaccines—that’s one-third of all vaccine exemptions in the San Diego area.

One clinical psychologist asked, “Will she be paying for the measles hospital bills across the country?”

On Dr. Zandvliet’s website, she includes a list of conditions and diseases that would, in her opinion, qualify a medical exemption from vaccines. Before the Voice of San Diego story was published, she removed three of them: eczema, psoriasis, and asthma.


The case doctors are talking about this week

An 11-month-old female infant presents with flu-like symptoms. Her mother says her daughter has had fever, nausea, and is losing weight. Upon examination, the infant has subtle periorbital ecchymosis, clear sclera, normal pupils, no lymphadenopathy, and a lump on her back. HR 120, RR 22, lungs clear. Do you recognize the rare cause of this presentation? See the answer here.


Want to join the conversation? Follow us on Twitter @Figure1.