Surgeon's Web Site Offers Inside View of Specialty

Nicholas Genes, MD, PhD

Disclosures

July 27, 2006

Lisa Marcucci, MD, is a surgeon, educator, and author. Over the course of the past year, she has developed her blog, InsideSurgery.com, into a valuable resource for surgery news and procedural information. In fact, it was named one of the 10 best surgery sites on the Web by the Wall Street Journal this year. I had the chance to correspond with Dr. Marcucci about her writing, her presence on the Web, and her plans for the future:

Dr. Genes: You're already a successful surgeon and an author. Do you view your Web site as an extension of your book writing, your surgical career, or an altogether new venture? Who inspired you to get online?

Dr. Marcucci: My sister and brother-in-law encouraged me to start Insidesurgery.com. They know I like to write and am always looking around for the next writing project.

I do very much see this site as an extension of my other, conventional medical writing. I am currently interested in medical errors. I did Avoiding Common Surgical Errors last year, and the second book in the series, Avoiding Common ICU Errors, will be out in November. Those books are not targeted per se to the general public because patients don't make medical errors on themselves. But I have started to take some of the information from those books, rewrite it, and post it on my site to make it accessible to the public. I think that it is information people might want to have.

Dr. Lisa Marcucci hosts Grand Rounds at Inside Surgery.com
August 1, 2006

Dr. Genes: When we last spoke a few months ago, you mentioned that you were very new to Web publishing, yet now you're running a very well-produced site with daily updates, RSS feeds, and more. How did you come to invest this time and effort in the Web site?

Dr. Marcucci: I must confess that I have lots of computer help. I am old enough that I have lived most of my life without the Internet. My brother-in-law was one of the early Apple software guys and knows an incredible amount about the computer and Internet businesses. He got me started and gives me technical support. I picked my professional blogmaster (Webharmony) because they specialize in helping people get going who have never done a blog or Web site, give a really fast turnaround, and have been in business a long time. I am trying to learn the technical aspects of blogging as I go along, but if I am really tight on time and get a bug, I can just focus on the content and hand the problem over to someone else.

Dr. Genes: Right now much of the content on InsideSurgery seems focused on surgery news. It's interesting, with a nice historical perspective, but I might have thought that, with your background, your emphasis would be squarely on education.

Dr. Marcucci: I mean, it has many great tips and features. (I assume it's high praise for another surgeon-author, Sidney Schwab, to be commenting on your thorough "appy" article.) But many other topics are "under development."

My plans are to post the details of the 250 or so most commonly performed surgical procedures. [Ed. Note: Some are already completed, such as appendix surgery.] I would like to use many more graphics and perhaps some video of the actual procedures being done if I can work out the privacy and copyright issues. I would like to become a resource for people looking for information on complementary and alternative medicine -- what is actually in the scientific literature on some of these treatments. I will be trying to do some interviews with some of the major figures in surgery, both practicing clinicians and policy makers. I will be building up a library of practice USMLE questions that I hope will be of help to medical students studying for the tests.

I see my site as more of an educational and resource site than as an editorial site, with maybe a little fun information thrown in. I don't really know enough about the business of medicine to make cogent comments on where it is going and what it means for patients. There is already so much good, articulate commentary out there that I don't think I could add much to the conversation. Also, I am not really comfortable talking about my patients, so I will not be using a lot of personal anecdotes about my practice. I am targeting healthcare professionals and the general public who may want a little more in-depth knowledge of what surgery is about.

The most fun post so far was starting to put together the medical history of John F. Kennedy. I like the historical and biographical aspects of it. If I wasn't going to work in the health sciences in some capacity, I would be a historian.

Dr. Genes: Lisa Marcucci will apply her skills as a writer and educator while hosting Grand Rounds this week on InsideSurgery. Each week, Grand Rounds features the best in online medical writing, including commentary, news, personal stories, and more. Check it out this week (the link goes live on August 1, 2006) to step inside the world of this surgeon and to get a glimpse of all the doctors, nurses, administrators, students, and patients who participate in Grand Rounds.

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