The ever growing database of Facebook “don’ts” just got a brand spanking new entry. Exhibit A: Dr. Amy Dunbar, an OBGYN at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, nonchalantly crafts your standard exasperated at work Facebook status about a pregnant patient who always shows up late. She also playfully posited to friends if she could show up late for said patient’s delivery in return. This can only end with screen-capping. And pitchforks.
The Daily Dot reports that Dr. Dunbar is “facing calls to be fired” after having a go at an unnamed patient on social media. Others who chimed in to laugh at such a patient include other professionals at the hospital, as identified here:
Heather Tiedemann, who says she had a full-term still birth, commented on the hospital’s Facebook page, specifically designated for “Mercy Moms To Be,” that Dr. Dunbar spoke “callously” about another patient, revealing personal information that others could identify — despite keeping mum on the mummy’s name. She writes:
…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.
The hospital responded that they have reprimanded Dr. Dunbar, calling the Facebook status “definitely inappropriate,” and said that they were going through her other Facebook posts to see if she violated any privacy regulations.
While, I appreciate your response, I assure you no punishment or no amount of humiliation this doctor receives for her stupidity will take away the pain and humiliation she has now caused a mother who has already experienced the worst pain imaginable in having a still birth. Now she has had her pain trivialized by her OB that should be there to support her through the fear of having another child. Instead her doctor and several other doctors mocked her and her loss in a very public form, suggesting she was late because she was hitting up the bars. I hope Dr. Dunbar losses her job and I hope that the hospital contacts every signal one of her patients to let them know of the possible breech of privacy so they can decide to take action or not. I am simply appalled by her actions. At the very least I hope you have suspended her until your investigation is complete. If not shame on you.
At the time of this writing, her statement has 33 likes.
According to the hospital’s latest statement to the press, they determined that no privacy violations were made:
Mercy values the dignity and privacy of all our patients and we are very sorry that this incident occurred. While our privacy compliance staff has confirmed that this physician’s comments did not represent a breach of privacy laws, they were inappropriate and not in line with our values of respect and dignity. Mercy holds its physicians and other co-workers to high standards in ensuring the protection of patient information. 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.
Tiedemann alleges that at the time of Dr. Dunbar’s posting, her Facebook account was set to public. And even if her account was private, she claims patient’s rights were still violated.
Michelle Michsi Ottley writes on the hospital’s Facebook page:
Yesss lets all get this woman fired after she studied year and years of medical school so she’s unable to find work and pay for her medical school bills or bills in general because she had a poor judgement call. I totally understand why people are upset but please people aims should not be to put this woman out of work over one venting FB status that would surely ruin her entire life. Do you all realize it’s not like she can just transfer hospitals she may not be able to find any sort of work depending on where she goes. Some of these messages are pure emotions and not rational thinking of the outcome that could come about if you really want her to lose everything.
Tricky Facebook privacy settings. Even doctors don’t get them!