Have hospitals gone too far to protect “sensitive” information when even a simple procedure and a photo on Facebook are all it takes to get a number of employees reprimanded for bad behavior?
Cathy Miller, a nurse at Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, Michigan, wasn’t sure at first why she was given a written reprimand for “unprofessional” behavior and warned that as the investigation continued, she could lose her job..
Turns out, management had discovered photos of Miller and several other Genesys employees on Facebook. But unlike other incidents involving employees on social networks, these photos didn’t show any patients, discuss hospital events or demonstrate employees misusing equipment or acting inappropriately on the clock.
In this case, Miller had gotten a splinter and a fellow nurse took the fragment out in an unused operating room while the two were on their break. The other nurse posted those photos, and several other “break time” shots on Facebook. The hospital wouldn’t comment on the matter, but according to Miller, the photos didn’t depict patients, didn’t indicate they were taken at Genesys and were all taken while the staffers were on break.
Management ordered the photos to be taken down and reprimanded Miller — a 12-year veteran of the hospital — as well as several other employees involved.
Miller received the lightest punishment — a written reprimand for violating health and safety regs, undesirable conduct and misuse of hospital equipment. (The other nurse wore hospital-owned headlights when removing the splinter.) Other employees received stiffer penalties — up to one month with no pay.
Miller filed a grievance through her union and had the reprimand removed, as did two other employees. Another two workers are still in the arbitration process.
No one denies that hospital staff posting inappropriate information — whether corporate data or individual patient information — is a no-no on any social networking site. But where should the line be drawn? Do health care workers have less ability to post the kinds of daily workplace trivia that workers in other industries take for granted? Share your thoughts in the comments.