Jackson Health Looks into Social Media HIPAA Violation That Involve a Nurse

Jackson Health has begun looking into a patient privacy violation case after a nurse posted images on Facebook of a baby that has a birth defect.

A nurse who was working in the neonatal intensive care unit of Jackson Memorial Hospital published two photos on Facebook of an infant having gastroschisis – an unusual birth defect of the abdominal wall which may make the intestines stand out from the body. The pictures had the words, “My night was going great then boom!” and “Your intestines posed (sic) to be inside not outside baby! #gastroschisis.” The distressing pictures were put up on accounts owned by Sierra Samuels.

The publishing of images of patients on social networking sites with no consent is a major violation of patient privacy. Photos of patients are classified as protected health information (PHI) and placing photos on social media sites, including private Facebook groups, violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) except when prior permission is secured from the patient.

HIPAA necessitates healthcare companies to give privacy policy instructions to employees. Training should be made available within a fair time period after a worker joins a covered entity’s personnel and training need to be consistently strengthened. The best practice is to offer refresher HIPAA privacy education every year. A sanctions policy ought to also be designed and carried out that clearly mentions the sanctions workers will experience when they violate the HIPAA Guidelines.

After being notified regarding the social media content Jackson Health started to look into the privacy breach and promptly put the nurse on administrative leave while waiting for the result of the inquiry. Securing patient privacy is the number one priority at Jackson Health System. Any likely privacy breach is taken very seriously and extensively investigated, mentioned a Jackson Health spokesperson. Jackson Health furthermore affirmed that when staff breaks patient privacy, even after getting educated, they will undergo disciplinary measures which may entail suspension or retrenchment.