Comments on Facebook Lead to Hospital Firing

The people over at FierceIT recently reported that a hospital employee was recently fired for comments the employee made on Facebook. Here’s the story:

An employee at Oakwood Hospital in Michigan was fired after she posted negative comments about a patient on Facebook, WJBK Fox 2 reports.

In her post, Cheryl James said she came face-to-face with a cop killer and hoped he rotted in hell. She also posted another remark WJBK would not repeat.

The hospital gave the following reasons for the firing:

A statement released by the hospital referred to HIPAA rules and noted that “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.”

James plans to fight her termination, claiming she did not share the patient’s name, his condition, or the name of the hospital.

Doesn’t seem like a HIPAA violation to me. Although, it is poor discretion and in poor taste. I am often amazed at what people post to Facebook. Some people just don’t realize how public it really is. I guess after things like this, the idea of a Facebook PHR isn’t very likely either.

I must admit that I’m also amazed that the hospital worker had access to Facebook. Hospital computers are some of the most guarded computers I’ve ever seen. Unless of course she posted from her phone. We’re bound to see a lot more of this. In fact, at some point we’ll see pictures and/or video of patients posted to Facebook.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

3 Comments

  • I second the concern about what people (especially the very young) post on Facebook, often without any privacy settings. But as for pictures, videos, and references to patients: are we sure there aren’t any up already? I’m thinking a careful trawl would reveal quite a lot of sensitive information from all industries, not just health care.

  • Michelle,
    No doubt there could be some already. I guess I should clarify that we’ll have pictures and videos of patients posted to Facebook and someone getting fired for that too.

  • Employers who don’t need to make it abundantly clear that what employees do with their facebooks, twitters, etc. can affect their job. Still, we’ll get incidents like these. People: everyone can see what you post to facebook, if you don’t want it getting back to someone, just do not post it!

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