Hospital worker fired over Facebook comments about patient

An employee at Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn, Mich., was fired after she posted negative comments about a patient on Facebook, WJBK Fox 2 reports. A spokesperson with parent company Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. confirmed which hospital was involved.

In her post, Cheryl James said she came face-to-face with a cop killer and hoped he rotted in hell. She also posted another remark WJBK would not repeat.

This latest social media incident comes less than two months after five nurses' jobs in California were put on the line after they allegedly posted patient information on Facebook.

After James' bosses got wind of the Facebook update and told her they had to investigate, she quickly removed the posting and expected to be written up or suspended. 

The hospital fired her instead. "The reason they gave me was that I violated HIPAA regulations by disseminating protected health information about a patient on a public forum, being Facebook, and that it also included disparaging and disrespectful remarks," James told WJBK.

A statement released by the hospital referred to HIPAA rules and noted that "we all have a legal and ethical responsibility to put our personal opinions aside and provide the care required for any patient who has entrusted us with their health."

The statement also noted that it is possible to violate the HIPAA rules without naming the patient: "All of our employees are trained and expected to protect patient information. This means keeping details confidential that might make it easy to identify a patient even if his or her name has not been revealed."

James plans to fight her termination, claiming she did not share the patient's name, his condition, or the name of the hospital. 

To learn more:
- read the WJBK Fox 2 story
- here’s the Detroit Free Press’ article on the cop-killing suspect

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