Healthcare News & Insights

Posting placenta photos on Facebook? Really?


A nursing student was expelled for posting photos posing with a patient’s placenta on Facebook. Now she’s suing — and the case could have repercussions for hospitals’ employee policies. 

According to the suit, four nursing students at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, were attending an off-site lab course at Olathe Medical Center. The students claim they sought — and received — an instructor’s approval before taking the photos and that the instructor was told they planned to upload the photos to Facebook, to which the instructor only replied “Oh, you girls.’ The students claim the instructor never said they weren’t allowed to take the photos, to post them or that they might be disciplined for doing so.

The next day, the instructor called one of the students, Doyle Byrnes, and told her to remove the photo. Byrnes complied immediately and asked if she was in trouble. She says the instructor said “no.” The next day, all four students were expelled for violating the school’s code of conduct and showing a lack of professionalism.

Note: The school says that the students are eligible to reapply for the program next year.

Now, Byrnes is suing, claiming that she didn’t get a fair hearing and that the punishment is too severe and jeopardizes her chances of finishing her degree and/or getting a job in her anticipated field. She also believes that she was not in violation of the school’s conduct code, since there is no official policy regarding social media.

Whether or not Byrnes wins, medical educators and hospitals may have to rethink their own policies to make sure that a) they exist and b) they are specific enough to enforce if an employee crosses the line.

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  1. See should have sought a photo consent.