HIPPA v. Facebook

So who wins in a battle between social media and government regulations? In this case, it looks like the government. Here’s a piece about a phlebotomist who was fired from her job at a Dearborn Michigan hospital for allegedly violating the HIPAA privacy regulations. The violation? A Facebook posting. The phlebotomist, a woman named Cheryl James, was stuck in a traffic jam on her way home from work on July 24. The traffic tie up was the result of a gun battle between a police officer and a criminal suspect. The next day, ironically enough, James worked on both men. The police officer died, and James put up a Facebook post saying she’d “come face to face with a cop killer” and that she “hoped he rotted in hell.” That was enough to get her fired, allegedly for releasing private medical information. James has field a grievance, challenging the firing on the ground that she never identified the subject of her rant, and never disclosed details about his medical care. Presumably, her hopes for the killer’s afterlife are not considered medical information. It will be interesting to see what happens. But it’s another example of why it may be best not to rant about your job on a social media site.