For healthcare professionals only

Observations Medicine and the Media

Online video sharing and patients’ privacy

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 30 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3991
  1. Heiman F L Wertheim, head of microbiology research laboratory1,
  2. Jeremy Farrar, director1,
  3. Peter Horby, head of Hanoi unit1
  1. 1Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam
  1. hwertheim{at}

    The ability to post any video on the internet with little regulation is corroding recently won principles of patients’ rights

    In 18th century London a popular form of entertainment was to tour the Bethlem asylum for a penny to look at the “lunatics.” Similar forms of voyeuristic entertainment have resurfaced and are alive and well today and available free on the internet. While preparing a scientific manuscript on rabies we came across several disturbing videos posted on YouTube showing footage of patients with rabies. In one video of a child with rabies is embedded the text “” and “This shit’s for you!” Some of the accompanying comments, posted by viewers, are equally distressing: “Funniest shit i seen all week”; “He’s screaming at a glass of water. IT’S FUNNY!!!”; “Fuck the family and fuck u! u tree huggin hippie. Don’t click on the video if u think its wrong.” These comments are clearly extremely distasteful and …

    View Full Text

    Log in

    Log in through your institution


    * For online subscription