Sick Kids, Bad Patients Lead to Social Flareups

I’m a new mom so two recent stories to hit the news about parents, doctors and social media firings really stuck out to me. In the first, a Georgia mother was fired after posting on her Facebook page about taking her sick daughter to urgent care because her own employer—a pediatrician’s office—didn’t have any appointments available. Sounds like a reasonable complaint—who wouldn’t think they should be able to slip their child in to see the doctor they work for? But not only did the office in question not agree, they found those comments troubling and fired her for violating the company’s social media policy of not posting anything disrespectful or defamatory.

This is a hard lesson, and media reports state the mother in question, Misty Robinson, is working with an attorney who believes her rights have been violated. This is a perfect scenario of social media conversations leading to different interpretations. Robinson didn’t think her post was problematic—she just wanted to share that her daughter was treated after all! But how would her employer know her motivations? Certainly they want to show they treat everyone fairly–imagine the response if she posted that another patient was bumped for her child. Whatever their reasons, they’re in the drivers seat when it comes to deciding how to respond. I’ll be interested to see how Robinson’s legal case proceeds.

The second story is no less aggravating, but for different reasons. Dr. Amy Dunbar, an OB/GYN from St. Louis, took to Facebook to complain about a patient that regularly arrived extremely late for prenatal appointments or blew them off entirely. She closed with “May I show up late for her delivery?” After complaints appeared to the hospital, administrators came out to support Dunbar, noting she didn’t violate any privacy regulations.

Dr. dunbar-Facebook


There’ve been plenty of cases where medical staff went far over the line in sharing personal patient information in social media. This isn’t one of them, and I’m glad the hospital reacted as they did. I’m sure Dunbar will never complain about her patients publicly again, but if she would it seems most of the public would continue to support her—comments on the hospital’s Facebook page for new mothers are overwhelmingly in support of the doctor. My aggravation stems from those folks calling her and her colleagues out for their Facebook comments.

Oh, and who shows up three hours late to the doctor in the first place? How rude!