Facebook is used to stay connected, write to friends and even show pictures but now the website seems to be at the center of a North County hospital investigation.
Dozens of Tri City Medical Center employees may have shared patient's information in social networking sites without the consent of patients.
Officials did not disclose Friday exactly what information was shared or who shared it, but a rumor began circulating about a week ago that 26 Tri-City employees had been fired or suspended for posting patient information online, according to our media partner the North County Times.
A hospital spokesperson wouldn’t confirm if hospital employees were in fact involved in the potential breach, but it was confirmed that an investigation is currently underway.
Nelson, who follows social media trends, says networking sites are throwing some private companies a curve ball.
The main concern in this case is HIPAA, which stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The law requires patients to grant permission before their private information is disclosed.
“The HIPAA laws and privacy laws are very clear about that,” says Nelson. “It's been fairly clear over the years that medical information of people is private information.”
As the power of social media keeps on growing, more companies are looking into new rules to prevent potential lawsuits, or simply to avoid embarrassment.
“You've got some player complaining about his manager. Complaining about his coach about not getting enough play time-or whatever, so companies ban that,” adds Nelson.
“Companies are definitely on the forefront of this because they've been embarrassed,” he said.
As Tri City continues its investigation, Nelson argues new rules and regulations will soon follow.
“We have more opportunity to put private information out there for the public, but eventually the company is going to have to figure out how much is too much.”