FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)-- An Arkansas pathologist is advocating for more use of social media in medicine as a way to teach and learn.
Dr. Jerad Gardner, a Fellow of the College of American Pathologists, said sites like Facebook can help solve medical mysteries around the world.
Gardner receives messages from colleagues on a daily basis who need some help with a patient. He received one from a doctor in Afghanistan who had a patient with a fungus all over his body.
Gardner explained the fungus was common, one you might even see in Arkansas, but the odd thing about this case was why it was all over the patient.
“The only real time I had previously seen this type of fungus in multiple bumps all over the body was in someone who has AIDS or some other immune suppression," Gardner said." So I said this is really worrisome. I really am concerned that this guy might have undiagnosed AIDS or something.”
After further discussion, he and other doctors determined that he did not have AIDS.
They found out the man was thrown from his car in an accident a few years ago. He got dirt in his wounds, which Gardner said is how the fungus grows.
Without the help of social media, Gardner may not have been able to help the doctor in Afghanistan.
He said this is the future of medicine to advocate for patient's rights, draw new people to the field and simply help others who may be in a bind.
This isn't just a way for doctors to get help.
Gardner said groups online are good for patients who may be suffering from rare diseases.
They can connect with others who may be going through the same thing for support or to learn together about their condition.
Gardner has already started groups online to build a network of doctors from around the globe.
“I started it to teach but I learn so much because people share these interesting cases and I’ll say wow I’ve never seen one quite like that before," Gardner said. "So that will help me. At least once or twice a week, I’ll see a case in my own practice and I’ll think this reminds me of that one case that we discussed a few months ago on Facebook.”
He said he is very active online where others practicing medicine may not be.
For social media to be the future of medicine, he said doctors of all levels of expertise will need to add this to their list of resources.