In late January, Dr. Amy Dunbar, an OBGYN at St. John's Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis, wrote a Facebook message complaining about a pregnant patient three hours late for an appointment and later divulging that the same patient had previously had a still birth has started a debate about if this information violated any confidentiality laws.
The Facebook post was brought to public attention when someone took a screenshot of it and posted it on the more public "Mercy Mom's to Be" Facebook page. The patient's name and other personally identifying information were not in the post, causing some to say that while Dunbar's message might have been a poor choice, it didn't violate HIPPA laws. Others said they can't believe she's still employed.
Heather Tiedemann wrote on Facebook her thoughts regarding Dunbar's post:
I just want say the lack of professionalism by Dr. Amy Dunbar is beyond words at this point. She should not be allowed to work with patients if she callously talks about them on her own facebook page. While she does not name patients on her page she gives personal information about patients which could identify who she is talking about. I hope the hospital takes swift action against this doctor and all the other doctors who joked about the patients she was referring to. As a woman who has had a full term still birth if I found out my doctor was posting that information on her page and other doctors were joking about it I would go straight to the top of hospital leadership to ensure this doctor was fired. It is appalling that you would employ someone like this on your staff.
Here's a look at some of the posts of those who don't believe Dunbar violated any privacy restrictions with her message:
The hospital responded to Tiedemann's comment first saying they're sorry such an incident occurred but also noting that their privacy compliance review found no breach of privacy laws. The hospital acknowledged though that the comment was " inappropriate and not in line with our values of respect and dignity."
"We cannot comment on specific disciplinary actions, but we will use this as an opportunity to reinforce our standards through additional education of our physicians and co-workers, including appropriate use of social media," Mercy Moms to Be posted on Facebook.
Watch this report from KMOV:
More frequently, people are getting fired for things they write on personal Facebook pages. This woman was fired for saying perhaps President Barack Obama would be assassinated during this term and another was fired for posting a photo of herself flipping off the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Featured image via 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com.
(H/T: Daily Mail)