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Learning from mistakes on social media
  1. Sarah Edwards1,
  2. Damian Roland2
  1. 1 Leicester Royal Infirmary, Emergency Department, Leicester, UK
  2. 2 Paediatric Emergency Medicine Leicester Academic (PEMLA) Group, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sarah Edwards, Emergency Department, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester LE1 5WW, UK; drsarahedwards{at}


Background Clinicians in the emergency care specialties often access information via social media (SM) to supplement their learning. The rapid and user-centred dissemination of information via SM speeds knowledge translation and means unnoticed errors may propagate quickly. East Midlands Emergency Medicine Educational Media is a UK web-based resource that produces emergency medicine-related learning materials. In October 2018, we inadvertently shared two sets of incorrect learning materials via SM because of a non-intentional mistake. We highlight how these errors were perpetuated and then corrected.

Method In October 2018, two separate posts were published on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit. One was an incorrect ECG where a paced rhythm was published instead of an ECG of hypocalcaemia; the other was incorrect information contained within an infographic. We reviewed the analytics of the posts, on each of the SM platforms.

Results The ECG mistake was picked up on Facebook 40 hours after posting by a follower. The infographic mistake was picked up on Reddit, within 3 hours. Despite these mistakes, and their correction, they continued to be shared on both Twitter and Facebook. The posts reached over 15 000 people.

Conclusion Highlighting errors in educational content shared on SM is rarely reported in academic literature. We feel disclosure, and adding an update to the post is the best methodology to amend errors. We invite debate on a strategy to elucidate the number of errors in medical educational resources shared via SM and strategies on how to correct and improve them.

  • education
  • methods
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  • Contributors SE came up with the original article idea and has written the original draft. DR has helped to rework this article with SE.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests SE is an Education Fellow part of the EM3 team. DR is one of the overseeing Consultants, for EM3.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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