Two members of staff at the University of New Mexico Hospital have been sacked after it emerged they had taken pictures of patients and uploaded them to a popular social networking site.
The Associated Press reports that Director of Public Affairs Sam Giammo said Sunday the photos depicting up-close treatment of injuries in the hospitals emergency department were taken over the last few months and then uploaded to one employee’s MySpace Page.
The employee’s page was on private and so only visible to those who were already on their buddy list although whether the pictures were available only to a select few or not, this is clearly an invasion of patient privacy. In a time when data is going missing left, right and center and people are becoming more and more concerned about privacy online or otherwise, the actions of these employees is a bit of a head scratcher.
Giammo told the AP that UNMH values patient privacy very, very highly and we will do everything we can to protect them." He added that the hospital would not tolerate unprofessional actions from staff and so, have come down hard in disciplining those involved. While two employees have been fired for using mobile phones, several others are being disciplined for not informing supervisors of the behavior. The photos were discovered after one supervisor received an anonymous tip off last Tuesday.
According to the AP, Giammo said that the hospital just has to rely on the word of staff that there are no more pictures of patients floating around cyberspace, however this is not the first time we’ve heard of hospital workers photographing patients. Earlier this year reports emerged that several employees at the Tri-City Hospital in Oceanside were allegedly secretly taking pictures of patients and patient records with their cell phones and rules about the use of cell phones were implemented in UCLA’s neuropsychiatric hospital when a patient had posted group photos including other patients on a social-networking site back in March.