Recently there were disturbing posts from a Naval Medical Facility in Jacksonville, FL. In these posts there were photos of medical personnel (not nurses) with newborn children – bad enough that the children’s identities were revealed, they were being disrespectful to the newborns – giving them an obscene hand gesture and making them dance.
The Navy took swift action by taking down the posts and disciplining the personnel. But this is a good reminder not only of what HIPAA means, but also of how medical personnel should be treating those in their care. HIPAA stands for Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act. It also means that an individual’s health and medical information must remain private.
It is not just the medical history of someone but any identifiable information that is to be protected and photographs of someone, no matter the age are certainly identifiable characteristics that should not be shared. Every patient deserves the right to their dignity which is not only a HIPAA principal, it is an ethical one as well. This places the medical personnel in a higher standard, but it is inherent in the job description. When someone operates below this standard it is unfortunate for us all.