Shift Observations

photo: jparadisi

Three nurses at lunch break in the staff lounge, focus intently on their phones. A fourth nurse enters.

She asks, “What would we do without our smartphones?”

Silence.

One nurse looks up, smiles, and says, “Talk to  each other?”

A longer pause, then shrieks of laughter.

All heads return to their phones.

New Edition of Change of Shift at Emergiblog!

photo by jparadisi 2011

A new edition of Change of Shift is posted at Emergiblog. Many thanks to Kim for including my post for AJN’s Off the Charts in the line up. Emergiblog’s Change of Shift consistently publishes the best in nursing and nursing related bloggers.

Nursing Student Faces Expulsion: Considering All Sides

Understandably, nurse advocates are upset by the recent expulsion of Johnson County Community College nursing student, Doyle Brynes, after she posted on Facebook a photograph of herself with a human placenta during a lab assignment at a local hospital. While I agree with my colleagues that permanent expulsion is severe,  understanding the legal obligations of hospitals concerning the treatment of body parts in our country may shed some light on the school’s action.

I don’t believe patient privacy is the issue in this case. There are JCAHO regulations governing treatment of human tissue in hospital laboratories. Because this knowledge is generally outside of nursing, it wouldn’t surprise me if Byrne’s nursing instructor didn’t know. A quote from the article link above: “Your institution probably already has policies in place, but never thought to consider the laboratory in their policies,” leads me to believe that there is not a standard for communicating this information between departments in hospitals. I suspect the nursing college’s relationship with the hospital was jeopardized when Byrne posted her photograph on Facebook.

Is expulsion too severe a punishment for the offense? I think so. In this case, education and not the withdrawal of it seem right. There are many unresolved problems regarding social media and health care.  I believe some of the conflicts nurses face are perpetuated due to the variety of interpretations of freedom of speech and privacy in hospitals. Few nurses can afford the legal costs to challenge decisions even when the debate is clearly unjust. As health care professionals, we are obligated to refrain from knee-jerk reactions and consider all sides of a disagreement. I doubt Doyle Brynes intended to hurt anyone. Was anyone injured? She made a mistake. We all make mistakes. We can learn from them.

Note: For anyone interested in more information about the scientific use of the human body after death, I recommend reading Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.