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“TikTok Surgeon” Loses License Due To Videos

Posted on 09/18/23 by admin in Medical Malpractice

It’s fair to say that the advent of the social media age has made our workplaces more relaxed, casual environments. Professionals in all industries have seen the value of communicating in a direct, personable manner to their prospective clients. Boxy suits, stuffy self-seriousness, and groan-inducing commercial spots are put. TikTok dances, Twitter trends, and other social media marketing strategies are in. We here at Malloy Law are no exception to this movement, we find that an approachable and relaxed environment comforts our clients and employees alike. But it’s important to understand that there are ethical and legal boundaries in the use of social media to promote your business and grow your brand. One “TikTok surgeon” has unfortunately found this out the hard way. Read on for the full story.


Live From The Operating Theater

Ohio plastic surgeon Katharine Roxanne Gawe began promoting her practice on social media in 2010. But it was her more recent exploits on video-sharing platform TikTok which brought her to the public’s attention. Under the pseudonym Dr. Roxy, Gawe amassed an audience in excess of 825,000 followers. Her content brought viewers behind the proverbial curtain at her practice. Gawe sought to explain her work to the layperson and educate people about the possible benefits of elective cosmetic procedures. This sounds entirely reasonable but her videos were not limited to simple explainers. Indeed, in seeking self-promotion, she strayed outside the bounds of medical ethics and doctor/patient confidentiality. Gawe went as far as to live-stream certain procedures on TikTok, even answering viewer questions while conducting these invasive procedures.

Given “Dr. Roxy’s” large public profile, it did not take long for the authorities to take notice. The Ohio state medical board warned Gawe as early as 2018 that her videos represented a breach of patient privacy. A second warning, including additional concerns of violation of informed consent and post-surgical complications, followed in 2021. However, in November 2022 came the last straw, as the Ohio medical board summarily suspended her license. The board has since revoked her license permanently.


The TikTok Surgeon: Negligence, Malpractice, and Social Media

While the live-streaming of sensitive medical procedures on a public platform makes for a more outrageous headline, there are even more troubling implications to be found once one digs past the surface. Three separate patients reported serious post-surgical complications. This includes one woman whose intestine was perforated, leading to severe bacterial infection as well as a loss of brain function due to toxins in the bloodstream. Given our own firm’s extensive experience with traumatic brain injuries and the harm they can cause, we here at Malloy Law are shocked and disturbed by this outcome to say the least.

The unnamed patient’s procedure was partially live streamed on TikTok. A strong argument could be made that splitting one’s attention between conducting a sensitive medical procedure and fielding questions from the online audience led directly to the patient’s injury, which would constitute negligence. Suffice it to say that the Ohio Medical Board apparently agreed with this argument. We’ve previously written on this blog about the dangers social media can present to individuals involved in legal proceedings. But we’d like to extend a word of warning to any and all professionals hoping to leverage the power of social media to grow their business. If your online presence can be shown to affect your work, it may open you up to lawsuits in addition to a whole galaxy of other professional consequences.

social media

Please Post Responsibly

In the early days of the internet, one could be forgiven for thinking of it as a kind of alternate reality, a place where people could speak their minds and act more or less as they pleased without fear of reproach. But as our lives become more and more digital, this attitude becomes more and more naïve. The “Tiktok Surgeon” is far from the first successful professional to seriously affect their career through their online conduct. She won’t be the last either. Professionals should strive to keep their priorities balanced between self-promotion and the work they’re actually paid to perform. We invite you to follow along on our social media for an inside look at our legal practice all throughout the beltway region.