NBC’s WRCB is reporting that a Chattanooga 9-1-1 dispatcher has been fired for sharing a photo of her dispatch screen containing a caller’s information on Facebook. From the article:
“I had a blood clot break loose and come out of my body,” he said. “I called to get emergency help and I almost died that day.”
The 911 dispatch screen detailing his call included his name, phone number, address and exact medical complaint. Dowis then took a photo of all that personal information and posted it to a Facebook group chat with some friends.
“A call I just took,” Dowis wrote.
What’s interesting is that the attorney interviewed by the station, Stuart James, brings up HIPAA in one sentence and then brings up law enforcement in a second sentence. The dispatch center is a county Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), not a healthcare provider. I have serious doubt that HIPAA would be applicable to them. For that matter, there are still plenty of law enforcement agencies that provide department information to local newspapers and their “Police Blotter” content, so privacy in law enforcement is not common. For that matter, the disclosure by the county of their termination of Holly Dowis could be viewed subjectively as a violation of her privacy if we went to such extremes.
Regardless of the laws, this type of behavior is indeed unprofessional and I am sure that there is a violation of the PSAP‘s Policies and Procedures. If it isn’t, then I would hope they would issue reasonable policies focusing on acts and not focused on the ever changing technological landscape.