Nurses' jobs at risk for allegedly posting patient info on Facebook

At least five employees, thought to all be nurses, will likely lose their jobs at Tri City Medical Center in California, with discipline coming down on a sixth, for allegedly posting patient information on Facebook, reports the North County Times.

In a statement released by the hospital, CEO Larry Anderson said Tri-City will pursue termination hearings for the five employees who "used social media to post their personal discussions concerning hospital patients."

Though hospital officials confirmed last month that they were investigating a potential breach of patient privacy that may have occurred on Facebook, Tri-City has confirmed that no patient names, photographs or similar identifying information appear to have been used. Patient information protected by HIPAA includes patient names, identification numbers, room numbers, photographs, diagnosis or anything else that might be used to violate a patient's privacy.

Max Carbuccia, a labor representative for the California Nurses Association, said the nurses may have sometimes discussed how to handle different types of patients hypothetically, but only in an educational context. The employees still have not seen the evidence against them, he says, adding that all deny posting information about specific patients online.

Although a date has not been set, the public-hospital employees are entitled to a hearing before termination. In the meantime, the hospital will re-emphasize hospital policy on patient privacy through employee training, Anderson told NBC San Diego.

To learn more:
- read this article in the North County Times
- see this NBC San Diego coverage