Healthcare News & Insights

Health pro faces charges after posting patient photo on Facebook

Apparently some employees need a reminder: Don’t post photos of your patients’ genitals on Facebook. Helian Williams, a former nursing assistant at CareOne, a nursing home in New Jersey, seems to have missed that part of her HIPAA training.

Williams and a friend are charged with third-degree invasion of privacy and third-degree conspiracy in a case that takes tastelessness to a new low. Prosecutors claim that Williams photographed the genitals of one of her elderly patients and sent the picture to her friend Michele Walker — and Walker promptly posted it on her Facebook page.

Williams has since been fired.

Need for more training? Or better training?

This isn’t the first time health care workers have taken to social media to discuss patients — and sadly, it won’t be the last.

It’s human nature for people to want to talk about the weird, irritating and funny things that they encounter on the job — and health care workers aren’t immune to that. But HIPAA regulations, not to mention basic human decency, require health care pros show a little more tact when discussing a typical day on the job.

Hospitals and medical practices already take great pains to hammer home the importance of maintaining patient privacy and the dangers of social media in a health care setting. Indeed, some hospitals have taken draconian measures. Yet the problem of patient info getting posted on social media sites — or just shared through various and ubiquitous PDAs — continues.

What’s do you think the solution is? More training — or different? Hiring people who are more respectful in the first place? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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