Thread: Social Websites

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    Default Social Websites

    I am gathering information to write an SOP about social websites. Should members of a fire department post information that they received as a result of their position, on or off duty, on social websites?

    We have had some members post information about deceased on social websites almost immediately after the truck returned to the station. We are afraid that family members may be linked to the social websites and find out about a death through a posting from a firefighter instead of through their family.

    I am all for new technology, but their should be some limits.

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    I Do believe posting anything related to a person and their medical condition, and the status of that person dead or alive, ok or not, is a Violation of HIPAA.

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    I try and take a "modern view" with some activities. Having said that this is unacceptable behavior. Every dept SOP or SOG I have ever seen has usually in the first page that you will act professionally both on and off duty, your behavior is a reflection of the dept. This type of behavior would only happen once. Since this is an ongoing problem I would also have some officers heads on a stick. There is no way they dont know about this and by doing nothing they are at least just as guilty as the posters.

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    Posting anything on-line or even speaking to someone about a persons condition/health is a HIPAA violation and you would setting your department up for legal trouble should the victims family decide to persue it. You can disclose the scene senario but not any names or medical conditions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kjohanson1107 View Post
    I am gathering information to write an SOP about social websites. Should members of a fire department post information that they received as a result of their position, on or off duty, on social websites?
    IMHO, there's no need to have a policy about social websites per se. Every department should have a clear policy about the privacy/confidentiality of any priveleged information a member might become aware of in the course of their duties. Such a policy should effectively cover social websites without needing to single out any particular media at all.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FLFD1393 View Post
    I Do believe posting anything related to a person and their medical condition, and the status of that person dead or alive, ok or not, is a Violation of HIPAA.
    Maybe. Maybe not. HIPAA doesn't apply to everyone.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Singe View Post
    Posting anything on-line or even speaking to someone about a persons condition/health is a HIPAA violation...
    Sorry, but that is just plain false. HIPAA does not apply to everyone so you can't legitimately make blanket statements like that.

    IMHO, more important than whichever legal aspects may apply are the old fashioned ethical aspects. Any sensitive information which you acquire in the course of your duties as a responder should be kept to yourself. It's as simple as that.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    IMHO, more important than whichever legal aspects may apply are the old fashioned ethical aspects.
    This is what needs to be impressed on the young, adrenaline-driven, "look at me" members - some things are best left unsaid and unseen.

    There is a tremendous drive in such types to share the most exciting event of their day, and they give little thought to the possible ramifications thereof.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    Sorry, but that is just plain false. HIPAA does not apply to everyone so you can't legitimately make blanket statements like that.

    IMHO, more important than whichever legal aspects may apply are the old fashioned ethical aspects. Any sensitive information which you acquire in the course of your duties as a responder should be kept to yourself. It's as simple as that.
    According to 45CFR 160-164 here is a brief description of the law;

    The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically. The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The Rule also gives patients rights over their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections.
    According to other officers I have talked to, both fire and EMS officers, they consider pictures of victims at emergency scenes, and information shared through electronic media, which is public domain, to be a violation of the HIPPA laws. Essentially, you are sharing information about the vicitims private health information, which is what the law protects. If someone that has the time right now to access the 45CFR laws and read them further that would be great, I am at work now and cant, I only have a few minutes for break.
    Thanks and stay safe.
    "Amatuers train until they get it right, professionals train until they cant get it wrong."

    Brian Jones, aka "Moose"
    Captain, Carlisle Fire Department

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