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Invited Commentary
October 24, 2018

Smartphone Photographs—Proceed, but With Caution

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Surg. 2019;154(2):125. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2018.3862

The study in this issue of JAMA Surgery by Kummerow Broman et al1 is highly relevant to today’s surgeons. The stated aim is to conduct a “pragmatic” investigation into the use of photography in postoperative care, which is commendable, since such care is already widely conducted via smartphone. The most true-to-life scenario would be a surgeon evaluating his or her own patients’ wounds, as firsthand knowledge of the operation and the patient’s underlying risk factors for surgical site infection can be factored into decision making in a way that is lost in hypothetical scenarios (ie, pretest probability can be deployed to improve the positive or negative predictive value of the photographs). Nevertheless, health information technologies are popular with both patients and clinicians,2 and the surgical community needs richer data on both the effectiveness of such tools and their potential pitfalls.

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