• Tue, Feb 5 2013

OBGYN Mocks Pregnant Patient On Facebook, Gets Majorly Hit With Mom Wrath

shutterstock_82331746The 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:

OBGYN

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.

Tiedemann countered:

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!

(photo: AHMAD FAIZAL YAHYA / Shutterstock.com)

What We're Reading:
Share This Post:
  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

    If the doctor never named or identified the patient, then I don’t think there’d be any grounds for claiming HIPPA or even ethical violations (unless the doctor shared things that were easily personally identifiable–just saying a patient is late a lot isn’t personally identifiable information).

  • M -

    I do agree that she gave out too much information after her initial post, and that the response regarding drinking was inappropriate, but this is simply a doctor venting about a late patient. Trying to get her fired? Absolutely ridiculous.

  • Michelle

    The doctor should have black listed the patient after several late shows so that the patient would have to see another doctor. They normally have policies about that anyway at most offices. If I have a patient that’s constantly late even after I address the problem then they are no longer allowed to make appointments with me. It’s the doctors own fault that she didn’t address the problem sooner and she doesn’t have the right to post about her patients on social media. Total lack of judgement.

  • http://willtherebecake.wordpress.com/ Liz

    I delivered at that hospital and everyone I met was incredibly gracious, helpful and respectful. This wasn’t my doctor, and while I agree it’s unprofessional to publicly complain about a patient on social media, she doesn’t deserve to lose her job over it. Reprimanded? Sure. But I don’t think she broke any laws. Prior stillbirth or not, if the woman couldn’t keep her appointments, the doctor should’ve done what my OB does: require rescheduling, charge her for missing her appointment, or eventually direct her to another doctor.

  • Knoxy

    While the behavior of this doctor may be inappropriate, her only real trespass was not having a private FB page. She didn’t name the patient – there are no HIPAA issues here. A consistently late patient is the one who should be fired. There’s no excuse. I’m a “mommy” and frankly, I’d fire the woman after the third late show. Entitlement is not only unprofessional, it’s a bad example AS a mother. Gross.

    • HaydenT

      So glad I am not the only person to feel this way.

  • Renee

    What bothers me isn’t what was posted on Facebook. What bothers me is that this patient – who has a prior history of loss – is so cavalier and careless regarding her current pregnancy. I’ve had a prior stillbirth and am currently pregnant, with at least 2 appointments per week. I would never, ever dream of missing an appointment, let alone being late. Honestly, I have no problem with the OB complaining about that patient. Imagine trying to help someone who clearly doesn’t want help or appreciate your efforts.

    • Andrea

      I agree with you on this. While the doc should have been a little more careful with her privacy settings, I can’t really blame her for being pissed.

    • Imalia

      This. Just a million times this. I have suffered four pregnancy losses, including a prior stillbirth and the thought of being so cavalier as to show up for appointments HOURS late baffles me. My last pregnancy (that also ended in a loss) I would have LIVED at the hospital if they had let me, for my own peace of mind.

  • http://expandng.com/ lisacng @ expandng.com

    The fact of the matter is the patient is always late to appointments. Hours? Why? The doc should not have talked about the still birth on FB, that she should be reprimanded for. Not for complaining about patients. We all complain about our jobs. Should we be fired? Actually, I think we can be. There are specific ways which I don’t remember.

  • Fran

    Oh the irony. A doctor bitching about a late patient? Please. I’m SURE that doctor has made patients wait way longer than their scheduled time before. Every time I go to my OB I’m there at least 45 minutes past my appointment time before I’m even seen. And I’m sure the doctor isn’t just sitting there in her office reading ripped up magazines from 1998 and thinking about all the other things she could be doing – she has other patients to see in the meantime.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

      Amen to that! I once waited 3 hours, I was pissed. I made the clinic buy my lunch in the hospital, after that I never waited more than 15 minutes. It was awesome, should have done it sooner. A dr in a clinic, is never bored, I am sure shehad about a million other things to do, she should have done them and stfu about until she got home to hubby.

    • M

      As you said, most doctors AREN’T just sitting around taking their time. They’re trying to provide quality patient care and answering numerous questions that start off with, “While I have you here, can I ask about…,” thus lengthening the visit and putting them behind. Doctors aren’t just late for the fun of it, and yes, having to rearrange a schedule is very difficult if your patients are also late.
      As for the above article, you need a sense of humor to deal with patients who could care less about their babies, have no prenatal care, smoke/drink/shoot up/prostitute during their pregnancies. If venting on fb about nameless patients is all this doctor does, good for her.

    • Persistent Cat

      That must have been embarrassing to watch.

    • Kate

      Go to a different doctor. My OB always sees me on time. You can’t assume that all doctors are always running behind schedule.

    • Lisa

      Maybe your OB has an issue with chronically late patients?
      I’m a medical receptionist, it probably averages to about 5 patients a day I have to call and chase up with “Why are you not here?”
      Most common excuses include: “I wanted to catch the end of *insert name of TV show here*” “I was shopping and forgot the time” and “Oh that doesn’t matter, no one will mind waiting a bit longer”.

      So it is likely that it is not your OB’s fault, rather, selfish patients.So no, not ironic at all, just the nature of the work.

    • Amanda

      While she may have had other things to do around the clinic, whose to say she hadn’t already worked a full shift and was ready to go home to her own family? It’s possible she was checking the patient in & then heading home for the night. So the fact that she had plenty of work to keep her occupied doesn’t mean that she should just deal with a patient being late. and COME ON. Seriously? You don’t know that the number 1 reason for an OBGYN being late for appointments is because he/she is at the hospital performing a delivery? I highly doubt that you waited 45 minutes just because the doctor didn’t want to get out of bed in the AM. She probably had a delivery that ran over and caused her to start her office hours late.

    • Leb

      I’ve had to wait 45 minutes to see a doctor before. I’ve never had to wait 3 hours. Routinely being late to appointments (or worse, being a no-show and not even bothering to call and explain why) shows a serious lack of respect for the time of the trained professional you are scheduled to see. And yes, doctors do get behind and it is aggravating… But a good portion of doctor delays is actually due to *other patients* who either fail to be on time for their own appointments, or “suddenly remember” a half dozen other issues they wanted to discuss but didn’t mention to the appointment scheduler who could have allotted extra time with the doctor if he or she had simply been informed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

      One of the reasons your doctor is so late is that people like the one the doctor is complaining about.

      (At least where I go to doctors) They have to wait for the late patient to show up and get the exam done. So maybe you too should be placing the blame on the tardy patients, and not the doctors who are not allowed to let another patient back in until about an hour after the person scheduled is late

  • Cee

    I don’t feel as if there was a breach here. She did not reveal anything personal here. Yes, the woman had a still birth. There is no name, age, ultrasound, files, or pics of this person in which you could link it to someone in particular. I have seen pregnant women reveal more medical history in their ultrasound pics (block out the words surrounding your ultrasound ladies!) than I have here.

    It is as if I, an educator talked about a student and said “this student failed a test before” How would you know who out of the 600 students I see a week it is? Same with her. She’s an OBGYN. Talking about pregnant people and pregnant related issues, oh gee, we sure are going to narrow this down.

    I hate that doctors and teachers are held to a bar above other humans in which they cannot complain about what a shitty day or crappy people they encounter at work. We are just the same as any profession. Yes we love our job and it is our passion, but we sometimes encounter a person or a situation that we’d vent about. Does it reduce the quality of our job? No. It is just venting.

    Hopefully her supervisor just tells her to keep her page private and carry on. Which is what all doctors and teachers should do.

    • Justme

      And there are definitely times when we teachers WANT to complain about that student who you’ve tried to bring in for tutoring before tests and to make up assignments that just won’t do anything to help themselves.

    • Cee

      YES! And you just can’t say shit about your struggles cuz no one is more vocal and up in arms about things as parents. Yet, they are on facebook raging about us teachers and doctors and our incompetence and short comings to help them. We must go above and beyond our job, as if they are the only student/patient, yet were never going to do it right and our name will be all over their social media sites yet we cant even vaguely allude to jobs and students or patients being the best sometimes. It’s almost as if were not expected to feel anything in our line of work.

  • Eileen

    I wonder how many of these women have ever expressed their wrath over a status that goes something like this…

    “My appointment was at 10:30. It’s now 10:45 and the patient before me is still in the waiting room. Yet God forbid I not pay my copay on time!”

    We may now know whom to blame.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    Yeah, she should maybe get a reprimand and learn her lesson from this, but destroy her career? No way. If she had identified the patient it would have been way different, but I don’t think this is the end of the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1175269873 Lisa Schneider

    Eh, I don’t really like obs, but I think the comment was kind of funny. She was a bit out of line revealing that the woman had had a stillbirth, but shouldn’t get more than a slap on the wrist.

  • MommyK

    Is the Heather mentioned in the article (who complained to the hospital) the late patient the OB was referring to?

    • Koa Beck

      Nope

    • MommyK

      She’s super invested in something that’s not really her business then. :P

    • Koa Beck

      Word

    • Justme

      Sounds like she’s upset for her “friend.” Wink, wink.

    • MommyK

      Yes, my, uh, “friend” is just so offended by it.
      People are too easily offended nowadays.

  • chickadee

    I think it was inappropriate only because of the forum she chose to use. She used her own identity to say it, and that identified her with her employer, who has to potential to be embarrassed by it. I know I tend to be hyper-vigilant regarding others’ privacy on my own fb page, simply because even if my page is private, others can screenshot what I say and repost it.

    I am an educator, and I was advised once that we should aim to be Caesar’s wife, basically — don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want to have repeated back to you by an angry parent. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want in your tenure files. It’s not fair, and it’s certainly cut down on my activity, but there is. This attitude kind of makes me seem paranoid, which I’m not, but I am aware that context is almost always lost when you’re talking about internet activity, so I tend to err on the side of caution.

    I think the doctor was entitled to complain about a habitually late patient, but she should not have included any specifics, and there certainly shouldn’t have been any talk of retribution. That shows a lack of judgment.

    • StephKay

      Exactly. This was clearly a case of extremely poor judgement, which in and of itself is excusable, but people do need to understand that certain fields (whether it’s fair or right or not) just do require a great degree of privacy. I’m in one of those fields too, child and youth social services, and due to the extremely high risk nature of our client base the confidentiality is so extreme that I can never confirm or deny I’ve ever met a client (even to their own parents), all windows in the building are blacked out, if the police show up looking for a client (only applies to non-violent crimes, if it’s violent we have to co-operate) we STILL send them away unless they take us to court for access to our confidential files. The idea of referring to a client on Facebook is mind-blowing to me. I couldn’t even post the pictures of myself marching in pride with a group of clients who consented to the photo verbally because I was wearing a shirt that featured the name of my organization, which can’t be tied to the clients image in any way without a signed and witnessed consent form. Obviously our privacy standards are pretty hardcore, but still, it’s not always as simple as “everyone complains about work on Facebook!”. When your job is building trust with vulnerable people (Obstetrics, education and social work tend to be just that) it’s just not an option the way it is for others. Which sucks for us, and can be frustrating, but thems the breaks!

      I kind of feel bad for everyone in this case. The OB had reason to be frustrated and clearly meant no harm, and at the same time the patient had every right to be extremely hurt by some of those statements. It sounds like the hospital handled this pretty appropriately given the circumstances.

    • chickadee

      Yes, and we seem to be seeing more stories about professional people posting ill-advised things on social media — it would be a good idea to include basic guidelines to social media in freshman seminars in colleges and universities. I always cover this in my classes, but some students still don’t understand the ramifications.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

    This Heather woman gets offended too easily.

    Sure it probably wasn’t the best to post that on facebook but for God’s sake, OBs have dozens of patients and many women experience stillbirths, maybe she should have used a more vague “Miscarriage” but I thought the joke was funny.

    Now the child Psychologist on the other hand…

  • http://www.facebook.com/slaqueur Suanne Bierman Laqueur

    You know you don’t have to RESPOND to every little thing you find offensive…but some women just thrive on making an issue that has nothing to do with them, ALL about them. The doctor called no one by name and revealed nothing of consequence that could lead anyone with two brain cells to the habitually tardy patient’s identity, and her complaint was perfectly legit. I didn’t blink twice. In swoops this do-gooder Heather, friend of a friend of a friend, gratuitously taking on the crusade of a woman she doesn’t even know, out to ruin the career of a doctor she’s never seen, because she……..I don’t know, someone tell me what this has to do with her. Attention much?

  • http://www.facebook.com/alice.longworth.7 Alice Longworth

    Sounds like patient wasn’t too happy about having her rude behavior regarding tardiness noted. And don’t you love the way that she assumes everyone knows that post is about her? Because OF COURSE the entire world revolves around her.

  • sm1184

    Tiedemann is an idiot. They mocked her for her tardiness, not her previous stillbirth.

  • Daisy

    Even though you really can’t identify the patient from the post, I do think it was inappropriate to talk about someone else’s tragedy. That doesn’t sit right with me whether anyone can tell who it’s about or not. But a general complaint about an unidentifiable patient who’s always (ridiculously) late? Perfectly understandable and shouldn’t be a big deal at all.

  • Jal

    Considering the hours I’ve had to sit waiting to see my doctor I consider it karma. I mean, if I make an appointment for 11 am why am I still sitting in the waiting room at 1 p.m.? How about a phone call and a reschedule for me? The funny thing is I notice 1 common theme anytime the doc doesn’t keep the appt. time: drug pushers. They seem to be in meetings with pharma reps. I love my kids doc. NO pharma reps, and the longest we’ve waited is 15 minutes.

    • izabela

      docs don’t see pharm reps except occasionally during a scheduled lunch, the front end staff deals with them. when you have 10 patients scheduled and everyone shows up when they want and fully expects that they’ll be seen and be seen promptly (some bring family along because hey what’s one more unscheduled patient in the room) that’s what causes delays. Most offices have a policy if you are late you can either wait until the last appointment of the morning or afternoon or reschedule because its unfair to keep the punctual patients waiting.

  • Pingback: PHOTO: OB-GYN Posts Controversial Remark About Patient On Facebook - Freshwadda Brooks | Coming Soon!

  • Pingback: PHOTO: OB-GYN Posts Controversial Remark About Patient On Facebook

  • Sarah

    Oh please. “Pain and humiliation” that a doctor joked about an unnamed patient’s chronic tardiness? Ridiculous.

  • Pingback: PHOTO: OB-GYN Posts Controversial Remark About Patient On Facebook | Yo Mamas CookingYo Mamas Cooking

  • Stephanie Grace

    They’re absolutely right. If it’s elective, cancel the damn thing. A lot of people are rude and disrespectful and have no regard for other peoples’ time. If she’s hours late, too bad. Go home. Anyway, I was smart and did not have my baby in a hospital, but in a gentle, calm tub of water with a midwife present. Best experience of my life :)