The Placenta Incident

I know: it sounds like a movie. Who knows, maybe it is.

Anyway, there’s been an ongoing story about a student nurse who allegedly posted a picture of a patient’s placenta on Facebook. The nursing school expelled her. She filed a law suit. Today, the court ordered her reinstatement. The school subsequently issued a press release indicating its displeasure with the court’s decision.

It was obviously a hot topic on #RNchat last night. You can view the transcript here.

This case isn’t really a big deal in some way – but it is in others. Here are some of my thoughts explaining that [link]:

This is an interesting story. It raises the issues of professional responsibility, how nursing schools should treat their students, the cultural effects of social media and a lot more. It’s certainly a topic to be discussed on #hcsm and other places.

The Placenta, The Nursing Student and The Teachable Moment is a recommended read.

Earlier I brought up the matter of distinguishing between Serious and Responsible. This might be a good example of why Healthcare really does need to consider this difference.

The Placenta Incident.

Could be bigger than The Social Network.

Any of you wanna help me write the screenplay? 🙂

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocialPlacental Musings


0 Replies to “The Placenta Incident”

  1. I liked your commentary Phil!

    I had a particular interest in this story, as I am not a nurse, but did previously attend the community college where this incident took place. Additionally, I have worked it the medical field, I am a health activist and I care about how patients are treated.

    I agree with your stance on this whole-heartedly. This is a teaching opportunity and luckily, it wasn’t something more “serious”. I can easily see how a student would be proud in this moment and at the same time I hope that patient respect and privacy is always taught with kindness. We are just learning the rules of social engagement here it seems. I bet that Johnson County Community College will be quickly amending its policies and rules of conduct so that there will not be any misunderstandings on how to handle a matter such as this in the future.

    I am glad this student will get her opportunity to return to nursing school, and I sure hope the faculty is kind to her in the process.

    1. I would agree – and so it’s even more incumbent on institutions to establish *informed* policies in accordance with today’s communications media, so everyone is safe – patients, students, educators, schools and facilities.


  2. Just wondering… while what she did was wrong… was the patient identifiable in anyway… her name or image posted in addition to picture of the placenta? If not… then the harm is where?
    Just wondering… Have a child with spina bifida… not a typical case (if there is such a thing) I always allowed students to view, participate in his treatment… how are they going to learn if not…. They have to practice, not just have theory.
    A placenta is a disposed of product of birth… cannot see the harm of taking a picture… unless the patient was identified…

    1. Practice…is just that..practice. It does not mean taking a picture to keep as a momento of your experience. Again, I may be old school, but this just does not fly with me. She should be expelled.

  3. I am an RN of 16 + years and never once would it have crossed my mind to take a picture such as that. Being there…..that’s the learning point. No need to capture the moment as a reminder! You can look up pics of placentas all over the internet. I feel she invaded the patients privacy, whether the patient’s identity was made known or not. She should be expelled. By her reinstatement, we are saying that this practice is acceptable. Maybe I am old school, but this certainly is NOT acceptable in my scope of practice.

    1. All good points, but I’m not sure we have all of the facts clearly established here.

      It’s not something I would do if I were still practicing bedside, but I’m not so sure the reaction of the school was exactly responsible either.

      That speaks to a kind of anger latent in nursing which I think we need to address.

      A school is, by definition, a place of learning.

      If the nursing profession has to resort to anger and punishment to promote patient safety and dignity, something’s wrong. Not to mention, it that’s the way people are treated, then that means we’d have to constantly behave this way.

      Ultimately, what this case shows, is a need for maturity across the board – from the student to the school to the profession.

  4. As a bedside nurse for the past 12+ years, i do not agree with her behavior, but neither do i feel it was appropriate for her to be expelled. There was no HIPPA violation as the patients identity was not compromised. What does concern me however, is that I am frequently tending to patients in the ED who are themselves taking photos of their ED experience and posting them to social networks while awaiting tests and treatment… a clear and blatant violation of MY personal privacy, however, when I ask them not to it’s immediately assumed that I must be doing something wrong because I don’t want my picture taken… double standard????

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