On Monday afternoon, word got around on Facebook and, I’m told, on Chicago sports radio, that someone had altered the Wikipedia page of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones to include the obviously false line, “His dad raped him every night after school.” (Click here for a screen grab.)
Within minutes of the publicity, someone had fixed the page. But before that happened, I mentioned in a Facebook discussion that this is additional evidence that Wikipedia should never be the primary source for any kind of research. But people rely on Wikipedia all the time when they look up information online.
Another participant in that discussion said that I should have corrected the information as soon as I had seen it. “I suspect there will be a case before long when a health professional spots an error on wikipedia and doesn’t correct it. A patient then takes notes of or acts on the information & the health professional could then be liable for not correcting the error – a part of professional practice?” this person said.
(Dramatic pause as a chill runs down your spine.)
Yeah, what happens when a patient gets wrong information from Wikipedia that his or her physician/nurse/family member saw but didn’t bother to fix? Medical error? Malpractice liability?
Has anyone ever thought this through? Am I reading too much into this or is this a real concern?