HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A Texas Children’s Hospital nurse has lost her job after posting on Facebook about a patient who, while traveling overseas, contracted measles.
Simply put, it was a HIPAA violation, at least that’s what one doctor who studies Medical Law claims.
“When in doubt, don’t," said Dr. Michael S. Ewer, Health Law LL. M. Director of the University of Houston.
It’s advice Dr. Ewer gives to his medical law students and something he would’ve said to the Texas Children’s Hospital nurse who published a post on a group called "Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children - Texas."
In the post, the nurse elaborates on seeing measles for the first time in her career. She says it was rough and the kid was super sick, so much so that the nurse said, “you couldn’t touch him without him crying/moaning in pain.”
“If the information pertained to perhaps one individual of a particular age group, that had a particular disease, and was seen at a particular hospital, that’s identifiable," said Dr. Ewer.
Texas Children’s Hospital learned of the post and took action responding to FOX 26 with a statement saying, “We take these matters very seriously as the privacy and well-being of our patients is always a top priority. After an internal investigation, this individual is no longer with the organization.”
FOX 26 tried contacting the nurse who made the post, to find out how she felt about losing her job which, according to Facebook, began in May.
“If it’s required by law to be reported, then the hospital must do so," said Dr. Ewer.
And measles is a reportable disease. The Houston Health Department said the patient, who’s a boy between the ages of 1 and 3 was traveling overseas where he likely contradicted measles.
Written among replies on the Facebook post include all of that information. The nurse even writing, “I’m not kidding that I thought about swabbing his mouth and bringing it home to my 13-year-old.”
“Had she done this...would probably not be a HIPAA violation, but it would be a violation of a whole bunch of other things," said Dr. Ewer.
A later post by the nurse apologized to the group of anti-vaxers encouraging them to keep strong in their beliefs, but saying she works too hard and owes too much in student loans to jeopardize her license so she deleted a lot of her responses.
As of last check on Wednesday, the boy remains hospitalized. We’re also told this toddler had not received a measles vaccine before the trip even though his family has vaccinated his older sibling.