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Nurses Fired for Facebook Postings

Nurses Fired for Facebook Postings


July 09, 2010

Protecting patient privacy is one of the cardinal rules in nursing (hello, HIPAA). The legalities behind breaking a patient’s trust and breaching their confidentiality is one of the first principles nurses are taught. It doesn’t matter how it’s done — verbally, on paper, via texting or online — it’s still wrong.

Earlier this year, five nurses who worked at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, CA were fired from their jobs for their Facebook postings discussing the cases of several patients. The center’s CEO, Larry Anderson, stated that no photos, patients names, or other identity-compromising information were posted.

“We recently identified an incident involving hospital employees who used social media to post their personal discussions concerning hospital patients,” Tri-City CEO Larry Anderson stated, adding that an internal investigation “yielded sufficient information to warrant disciplinary action.” —

According to various news reports, a sixth hospital employee was disciplined, but not fired.

This isn’t the first incident of social media being an issue when it comes to patient privacy, nor will it be the last. How should hospitals regulate social media? Should sites like Facebook and MySpace be banned from hospital staff?

What do you think?

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  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    I, like others, dont see the real problem. But from the outside looking in, it appears the issue is bad for the hospital because it possibly reflects unhappy or overworked employees, too many patients per nurse, etc. and this can reflect others choosing to NOT apply for employment there.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    If no identifiers were used then it's a no harm, no foul situation. The hospitals may have wanted to fire these nurses for a different reason and this is just their excuse. I smell something fishy maybe getting rid of whistleblowers.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    over 4 years ago

    From the little information gathered looks like this could be a case for the ACLU. If the nurses were using Facebook or whatever the medium was, outside of work, no patient identifying info was disclosed or hintable, where is the beef? Could it be that the main thrust of the discussion was a less than flattering critique of the administration's policies and acumen and its impact on quality of patient care? Were they whistleblowing?Social media like Facebook and blogs must and do serve a social purpose other than disseminating trivia. There is clearly another untold side to the story. Let's just make sure that civil liberties granted by the Constitution don't get trumped by fuzzy allegations of violation of privacy.

  • Iraq_164_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I work for a facility that allows staff to access the internet, but it is highly regulated. Before I started working there, they used to allow sites like MySpace and Facebook, however, they have listed those as restricted websites as staff was spending too much of their time on those sites and not on their work. However, I don't think that staff should not be allowed to use those sites. I just think that clear guidelines should be spelled out as far as behavior outside of the workplace. Most facilities state in their policies that engaging in illegal, unethical or immoral behavior will not be tolerated, they should amend that to include "online behaviors" as well.
    If those nurses were posting stuff, without identifying information, I don't see how they could be fired. If this were the case, then the facility should ensure that guidelines are clear about what type of behavior is/is not tolerated. However, if the posts contained information that could lead a "lay"person to easily identify a patient, then I don't think the facility was out of line for letting the staff go.

  • Picture_1_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I don't understand why, if no names were used or other personal info, that these nurses were fired. Obviously, I do not know all the details but it just seems a tad harsh.

    On the other hand, why were they discussing it over FB?? lol

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    I am not informed of all the facts of this case but it seems to me that if no personal information was used, no identifiers whatsoever, there would be no HIPAA violation. These could even be hypothetical situations that were being discussed. But as I say, I am not familiar with this case. I am familiar with HIPAA however, as I have degree in Health Information Technology and RHIT credential. As part of my clinicals I wrote the HIPAA handout for foster care parents for Clark Co. for our County Privacy Officer.

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