Should this doctor have slammed her patient on Facebook?

Original article here.

Before I even read the article, my answer was "obviously not." But I'm interested by several things here.

First, this institution is not doing the knee-jerk SoMe thing and firing the doctor and making rules like "no one who works here can have Facebook accounts at all." Kudos to them.

Second, the institution appears to have read AND COMPREHENDED HIPAA, which very few people or institutions do. The patient cannot be identified, so patient privacy WAS NOT VIOLATED.

HIPAA does not mean we can never talk about patients. So few individuals or institutions seem to understand this. It doesn't even say that patients can't identify themselves in what is written---only that others can do so. It sounds from thie article as if the patient in question probably got pissed off and identified herself.

Those things apart, this is perfect example of a dicey area in social media and medicine. Should physicians and nurses get to be unprofessional in this way? On the one hand I say no, it's probably a bad idea. But on the other hand I feel like we need to be able to express ourselves too. This profession is so stressful that identification is vital. My favorite blogs are anonymous ones that are clearly unprofessional, but I love them because they help me realize that others are frustrated by exactly the same things I am.

That question will be hammered out in time, but meanwhile I'm pleased to see positive developments in the reactivity that's been shown toward patient privacy in social media.