Nurse Katie Duke, featured on ABC’s docu-series “NY Med”, was fired at the end of her shift when she posted a picture on Instagram of an empty trauma room after an accident involving a man and a New York subway train. The caption read, “Man Vs 6 Train.”
The photo featured the scene after a patient was treated after the train accident. There were discarded medical materials, syringes, and other medical paraphernalia nurses and doctors used to treat the patient.
After Duke posted the picture to Instagram, the nurse received a call at the end of her shift that she was fired from her nursing job at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
“I got a call at the end of my shift telling me I was being let go after seven years in the ER,” the nurse told ABC News.
The nurse said she was not being fired for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, otherwise known as HIPAA, which protects the privacy of patients. Instead, she was told that her actions were not becoming of a nurse.
“I was told I was being fired for being insensitive,” Duke said.
She also added that she had not taken the photo herself, but rather reposted it from one of the doctor’s who also worked on the emergency. The doctor was not reprimanded.
New York Presbyterian did not wish to comment on Duke’s firing or the involvement of anyone else on the staff in the incident.
Duke says she did nothing wrong in posting the picture. She said that she was only trying to show how nurses see life and death are played out in the hospital on a daily basis. Still, she says she now understands how posting a picture like that could be upsetting to those who are not acclimated to the daily activities in an emergency room.
Nurse Duke has since found position at another hospital in New York.
“If you hung around nurse station and heard the way we talk about injuries, life and death you might get the wrong impression but it’s just a coping mechanism,” she said. “Now I check my posts so no one gets offended or thinks I am a cold-hearted person.”
“Because nurses are often on the front line of medical care, they need to be extra careful with what they post on social media,” said Nancy Spector, director of regulatory innovations for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
“Most of the nurses that get into trouble have good intentions but they just don’t know how far reaching social media can be,” Spector said. “Remember, nothing can really be deleted.”