Another story regarding a violation of privacy via the social network Facebook has reared its head. This story is coming out of Memphis and is a little bit complicated so here is the original newscast from local station WREG regarding the story:
Basically they Memphis Fire Department responded to a child with a penetrating trauma and impalement. It seems the responding engine had Lieutenant Maurice Tolliver who used his cell phone to take the photo of the patient who also happens to be a minor. Now Lieutenant Tolliver claims he did it for “training” purposes. While department policy may not directly address it the basic laws regarding photography still apply. If you are in public view then there is not an expectation for privacy and a photograph can be used without getting consent. I have severe doubts that this photo was taken in public view, especially since the mother didn’t know about it.
Then we have medic Charles Bullock who uploaded the photo to Facebook. Now if Lt. Tolliver took the photo for training purposes, why did medic Charles Bullock upload it? Obviously there was an exchange of the photo between the two and not for training purposes.
Here’s where it gets really interesting… according to Memphis FD PIO Lieutenant Wayne Cooke the department has policies that dictate who can capture image media on a scene and who is authorized to distribute that media after receiving permission from the upper echelon. Obviously these policies were not adhered to, and rightfully the two received disciplinary action.
They were suspended for 4 hours.
Yes, really, suspended for 4 hours.
Oh, and medic Charles Bullock is appealing his suspension because it appears he feels he did nothing wrong.
Considering what happened to Mark Musarella when he posted a photo to Facebook, what happened to Terrence Reid when he shared a video of a crash victim, or what happened to Jason Brown when he made an animated short I am of the opinion that medic Charles Bullock got off easy. For that matter I think they both got off a little too easy.
While I’m not necessarily a proponent of separations because of cases like this, if there is truly a policy in place that addresses all this, then I would expect something more than 4 hours. At a minimum I would expect a week’s suspension solely for violating the patient’s privacy. Or is HIPAA really just a paper lion?
The fact they did this to an injured child, besides sounding like a case out of “To Catch A Predator“, maybe the whole department needs a little sensitivity training.