Social networking is a new outlet for doctors, patients

In the waiting room, the patient's family members circled a Blackberry. About every 15 minutes, Dr. Carlos Wolf of Miami Plastic Surgery gave them a few keystrokes of information about how the patient was doing.

``M is asleep,'' one of Wolf's nurses typed at 9:13 a.m. on June 3. ``We will start surgery soon.''

Less than an hour later, the nose job was complete.

``Beautiful,'' the nurse typed. ``She's going to love it.''

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube aren't just for entertainment anymore. Wolf and doctors around South Florida and the rest of the country are using the social networking tools to bring patients' families and the general public into operating rooms, sometimes sharing step-by-step medical procedures. They favor the real-time updates and videos as a way to reduce the fear factor of surgeries and educate people about the realities of certain procedures, especially new ones.

Earlier this year, surgeons at a Detroit hospital used Twitter to report the blow-by-blow steps of an operation to remove a kidney tumor. In any given month at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, Dr. Beth-Ann Lesnikoski likes to use Twitter as an educational tool during surgeries to treat breast cancer. Last month, anyone with Internet access could watch live as Dr. Harlan Selesnick repaired a knee ligament at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, courtesy of the Baptist Health South Florida website, which posts webcasts of surgeries on a regular basis.

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