Breathtaking: lung transplant service advertised on Facebook and Google

Next to ads for local pizza delivery services on Facebook and Google, a health system in Pennsylvania is advertising a lung transplant service.
Written by Denise Amrich, Contributor

Some days, I'm completely blown away by the advances we've made in medical science. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a technology that transports a still-beating heart over long distances until it reaches the intended transplant recipient.

See also: Heart-in-a-box: transporting a live, beating heart to transplant patients

That's why it's so disconcerting when the healthcare industry shows its more crass side. Take, for example, a $20,000 advertising campaign on Facebook and Google for ... wait for it ... a lung transplant service.

Yes, right next to the ad for local pizza delivery that shows up on the side of your Facebook wall, might well be an ad for lung transplants performed by the University of Pennsylvania Health System. After all, lung transplants are big money, netting the medical center $100,000 or more per procedure.

Hospitals and medical practitioners are governed by HITECH and HIPAA regulations, preventing them from sharing your confidential medical information with anyone without your approval. But if you've ever written to a friend or family member about deeply personal medical information using a keyword or phrase bought by one of the very same medical facilities, you might well be presented with a very personal advertisement.

Now, don't get me wrong. Advertising makes sites like ZDNet possible. Advertising also helps businesses sell products, employ people, and keep the engine of commerce turning. If you have a job, you may owe it -- in some obvious or distant way -- to advertising.

But do you think hospitals should be allowed to advertise procedures like lung transplants? And is displaying that information on your Facebook wall a violation of your privacy? Or is it just a startling lack of good taste? TalkBack below.

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