Healthcare News & Insights

Hospital employee posts patient’s name and medical info on Facebook

Social networking sites may have benefits for doctors and hospitals, but they also provide an easy way for staff members to make stupid mistakes and violate the law and patients’ privacy rights. 

The latest example comes from Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles, which is currently investigating an employee who allegedly posted a patient’s name and medical information to a Facebook page.

The post contained a photo of a woman’s medical record, which included her name and the date she was admitted, along with the comment, “Funny but this patient came in to cure her VD and get birth control,” the Daily News reports.

The employee received scolding comments from other Facebook users of the social networking site and told the post was in violation of HIPAA and the patient’s right to privacy, but the employee responded by telling them, “it’s just Facebook…Not reality.”

The employee who made the post was provided by a staffing agency, hospital officials said. The hospital will work with the agency to help make sure better training on privacy issues is provided for contractors.

Experts warn problems like this will only become more common as social networking becomes a bigger part of daily life. The first step to preventing staff’s social media use from turning into compliance and public relations problems is creating a social networking policy for employees.

Here are some examples of healthcare organizations’ policies your facility can use in developing one of its own.

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