Five nurses fired for Facebook postings


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Five California nurses were recently fired after allegedly discussing patients on Facebook.

The nurses, who worked at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, lost their jobs after an internal investigation and three weeks of administrative leave. While no details of the incident have been revealed, Larry Anderson, CEO of Tri-City Medical Center, has said that no patient names, photos or identifying information were included in the posts.

This isn’t the first time nurses have gotten into trouble for Facebook postings. In 2008, a photo of a topless British nurse — with patients in the background — appeared online, causing the hospital, Northampton General Hospital, to block acess to all social networking sites from work computers. In 2009, Wisconsin nurses were fired after two nurses took photos of a patient’s X-ray and allegedly posted it to Facebook. While the Facebook page was quickly removed, one of the nurses in question admitted to discussing the incident on her Facebook page. Photos of nurses having a food fight at Stafford Hospital in the UK also surfaced in 2009, quickly creating an uproar because the incident took place after a heavily publicized report that linked patient deaths to staff shortages and poor nursing care.

While a number of hospitals have social media policies in place — and HIPAA strictly enforces patient privacy and confidentiality — incidents continue to occur. How do you think hospitals should handle questionable social media postings? Is it ever appropriate to upload work pictures or to discuss work online?

Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN
Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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