Recently Enacted New Jersey Law Shines Spotlight on Critical Social Media Issue for Healthcare Employers

When the photographs and videos flooding social media include images of patients or the victims of an accident or crime, it gives human resources professionals, compliance officers and in-house employment counsel at healthcare facilities heartburn and forces them to spring into action. In the past several years, dozens of snap-happy healthcare workers have been fired for using smartphones to photograph patients and then upload the images to their social media page. One startling illustration of this phenomenon occurred when emergency room workers and staff at a medical center in California photographed an urgent care patient’s gruesome stab wounds and posted the photos on the web. In another example, an Oregon nursing assistant received an eight-day prison sentence after posting graphic photographs of nursing home residents on her social media site. Given these types of stories, it is not surprising that, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study published in April 2012, 63% of healthcare consumers expressed concern about personal health information being shared in public.

On August 8, 2012, New Jersey took a step towards addressing this problem by criminalizing unauthorized photo shoots at emergency and accident scenes. Under the new law, first responders are prohibited from taking pictures or video of victims and from disclosing such images without the victim’s consent. To learn more about the law and its potential implications for healthcare employers, please continue reading at Littler’s Workplace Privacy Counsel.

Image credit: Pablo del Rio

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.