With the advent of social media sites, nurses are now faced with even more issues. Can you talk about your day at work or is that forbidden? Can you vent your frustrations about things that happened to you during the day or are you violating HIPPA law?
Nurses need to be aware that HIPPA is serious and breaking that particular law comes with substantial consequences. We don’t equate a quick note on Twitter or Facebook as a problem, but it certainly can become one. Read the article below to see how.
Let me know if you have had any issues like this, or if you feel that this is or isn’t a real issue for nurses.
By RONNIE DAHL
Cheryl James enjoyed her job at Oakwood Hospital. She never imagined posting something on Facebook from her own computer on her own time would get her fired.
“He died for us, protecting us,” said James.
Like so many others, James was emotional following the shooting death of Taylor Police Corporal Matthew Edwards. She worked for the hospital organization that treated the police officer and the shooting suspect, Tyress Mathews.
One night, while at home, she posted on Facebook that she came face-to-face with a cop killer and hoped he rotted in hell. She also posted another remark we can’t repeat.
Tuesday, she got a call. Her bosses wanted to talk.
“They called me in, told me that they got notice and word that I had posted this specific post on Facebook, and that they had to investigate it,” James said.
She says she immediately removed the posting and thought she might get written up or suspended. Instead, she got fired.
“The reason they gave me was that I violated HIPPA regulations by disseminating protected health information about a patient on a public forum, being Facebook, and that it also included disparaging and disrespectful remarks,” said James.
Late Friday afternoon, a representative for Oakwood Hospital released the following statement.
“As healthcare providers, we have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect patient privacy and we are bound by HIPAA rules and regulations to ensure that we do so. All of our employees are trained and expected to protect patient information. This means keeping details confidential that might make it easy to identify a patient even if his or her name has not been revealed. That’s why disciplinary action, even termination, may result from sharing information about patients inappropriately in any public forum or setting.
While we cannot discuss specific details regarding any current or former employee, we all have a legal and ethical responsibility to put our personal opinions aside and provide the care required for any patient who has entrusted us with their health.”
“I am familiar with HIPPA. I did not give out any of his information. I did not give out his name. I did not mention the hospital. I did not give out his condition,” James said.
She is still reeling from losing her job. She doesn’t believe her actions warranted being fired. She has two small kids, and her husband can’t work. While her feelings about the accused cop killer haven’t changed, she says she’ll think twice about what she posts on Facebook in the future.
“Hindsight is 20/20. Would I take back what I did? No. Would I do it in a different manner? Maybe,” said James.
She is planning to fight her termination.
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