June 09, 2010 | | Comments 2
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Facebook posts could cost five California nurses their jobs

A few years ago, hospitals did not have to worry about patient information being posted on the internet, as social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook were not as popular as they have become today. Tri-City Medical Center in CA may be wishing for the days before computers, as five nurses’ jobs are in jeopardy and a sixth will be disciplined for allegedly posting patient information on Facebook.

In May—having suspicions that a breach of patient privacy may have occurred on Facebook—the hospital conducted an investigation, but found no patient names, photographs, or other information was posted on the site. However, Tri-City has not specified the information these six employees allegedly shared on the website.

Larry Anderson, CEO of Tri-City, released a statement saying the hospital will pursue termination of the employees who “used social media to post their personal discussions concerning hospital patients.” Representatives from Tri-City have not released what positions the nurses at the hospital hold.

According to Max Carbuccia, a labor representative for the California Nurses Association, the six nurses in question were placed on “administrative leave” roughly three weeks ago, and even though they deny all claims, the nurses have not seen the evidence against them.

Carbuccia says the nurses were asking hypothetical questions about how to treat different types of patients.

No hearing date has been set, but the employees are entitled to one before termination, as Tri-City is a public hospital.

Do you agree with Tri-City Medical Center’s actions? What kind of policy does your facility have in place for sharing information on social media networks? Should nurses or any staff member be able to discuss or post “hypothetical” questions and scenarios on such sites?

Source: North County Times

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Filed Under: Hot topicsImage of nursingTechnology


Sarah Kearns About the Author: Sarah is an Editorial Assistant in the patient safety group at HCPro, Inc. She contributes to two monthly newsletters; Briefings on the Joint Commission and Briefings on Patient Safety, and manages four e-zines; Accreditation Connection, AHAP Staff Challenge, Nurse Manager Weekly, and Healthcare Training Weekly. She also helps research new products for the patient safety and nursing market. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2008 where she earned her bachelor's degree in English.

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  1. The very idea that these nurses are going to be fired is obsurd. The article clearly states that the discussion on facebook was hypothetical and didn’t include patient information (thereby excluding a HIPPA violation). It sounds more like a blog where nurses can bounce their questions/ideas about disease processes or situations they encounter in their profession. I am outraged by the fact that the nurses have been put on leave yet haven’t been given the courtesy of seeing the evidence being used against them! In my opinion it’s the nurse’s rights who have been violated – not the patient’s.

  2. This is horrible for nursing. As long as the patient has not been exposed then there is nothing wrong woth asking fellow nurses for advice. There is an opportunity here for learning from various situations that we as RN’s could use to further our understanding for the next patient that happens to have the samey issue. If patient privacy was not compromised then I do not think there was any harm done.

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