Comments on Facebook Lead to Hospital Firing

Posted on August 4, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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.