Texas nurse fired after posting about a young measles patient…on an antivax page.
Texas Children’s Hospital took decisive and swift action after their nurse’s posts on the “Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children- Texas” Facebook page were shared with them…by a concerned ZPac member.
“For the first time in my career I saw measles this week. Actually most of my coworkers and the ER docs saw measles for the first time as well. And honestly, it was rough. The kid was super sick. Sick enough to be admitted to the ICU and he looked miserable.”
Sounds like a cautionary tale aimed at getting the antivaxxers to see the light, right? Wrong. It gets worse.
Can You Say HIPAA VIOLATION?
She went on to claim that the patient had recently traveled to a region “where measles is very common” overseas, and she believes he had contracted “wild” measles. She stated that NONE of this would change her stout antivaccine beliefs. She then went on to “joke” about having thoughts of swabbing the infected toddler’s cheek and bringing the sample home to naturally infect her probably-unvaccinated 13 year-old child (a common antivaccine belief…”natural” infection is safer than vaccines, of course, right? RIGHT?!?). The press didn’t even have to report about the “joke” comment for the story to go viral. You can read some of the press stories here and here.
HIPAA establishes rules and safeguards that health care providers and other “covered entities” must achieve to protect the privacy of health information. It holds violators accountable, with civil and criminal penalties that can be imposed if they violate patients’ privacy rights. Read more about HIPAA rules and violations here.
Measles hasn’t been widespread in the United States for more than a decade.
Most of these cases originate outside the country and occur in people who were unvaccinated. For this failure of our “herd immunity” we can thank the antivaxxers.
In this case, apparently the toddler had not been vaccinated yet as he was still too young. The first dose for infants is usually given between 12 and 15 months, with the second dose typically given between ages four and six years. It is up to US to protect our children by immunizing everyone so the community immunity is strong enough to protect those who are most vulnerable.
Nurses are more trusted by the public than every other profession, even physicians.
Nursing remains the most trusted profession outranking doctors, judges and the police, according to the latest survey of public confidence in key professionals.
94% of people would generally trust nurses to tell the truth – slightly up on 93% last year. Nurses rank just above doctors in the trust stakes, with 91% of those who took part in the face-to-face research trusting a doctor to be truthful.
So why was she fired, and was it the right thing to do?
Watch our video and find out. I tried not to get angry during this live episode, but I guess I didn’t try hard enough.
Take home points: think three times before sharing ANY patient information on social media. The HIPAA parameters are much broader than you think. Watch the original video here on Facebook, and share with your family, friends, and coworkers. This is not an issue we can stay quiet on any longer. When a nurse violates our trust and the law, he or she may be entitled to their free speech, but they are also entitled to bear the full consequences of endangering those they are entrusted to protect. Please share this message far and wide, and PROPS to the ZPac for shining a light on this travesty.
– [Man] And you’re live, Z.
– I’m live?
– [Man] You’re live
– Are you sure? ‘Cause don’t make me sing Seal, ’cause I’ll sing Seal.
– [Man] Semi positive.
– Let’s do this. Guys, it’s your boy ZDoggMD. Check it out, before we go any further, if you wanna spread light and reason, like the Z-pack does, ’cause this story is about how a member of the Z-pack brought to light both a HIPPA violation and anti-vaccine beliefs in a nurse who takes care of children for a living and that lead to corrective action on the part of the institution, Texas Children’s. If you think that what this movement is doing is actually effecting change, please become a subscriber, click the little button and you can be a part of helping to support this movement, and you get early lives, special access to different content and stuff like that, and private conversations where we can set the agenda for the main show. All right, that housekeeping out of the way, this story is insane and there’s a lot I wanna unpack. Okay, Texas Children’s Hospital. There is a nurse there, I’m not gonna say her name, because honestly the press has already done it and I have no need, my goal is not to attack or humiliate or further damage an individual. My goal is to report to you what’s happening and to talk about the ethical issues that we have around caregivers who hold beliefs that are antithetical to the evidence, antithetical to science, and could potentially represent public health threats. This is the story. This nurse is part of a anti-vaccine group online called Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children in Texas. And this group obviously, I’m not a member of it, but we have spies in the group. And they obviously are against vaccinating children for all the reasons that they always site, which we have debunked again, and again, and again. So we’re not gonna get into that. It turns out that one of the nurses works at Texas Children, takes care of children and she posted the following. And the reason we know what she posted is, one of the spies in the group, who has been working for a long time, tirelessly, to expose anti-vaccine sentiment within the medical profession and bring it to light so people can know what other medical professions are saying and spreading, especially if it’s antithetical to the standard of care. This person wrote, “So quite a few people know I’m a nurse. “Some even know where I work and for the first time “in my career I saw measles this week.” Well, it turns out we already know where that is, because we know there’s a measles case in Texas and it’s at this institution, right? “Actually, most of my coworkers and ER docs saw measles ” for the first time as well.” You know why? Because we have eradicated it almost because we vaccinate. That’s why. Surprise. “And honestly, it was rough.” Ya think? Measles requiring hospitalization is rough? Ya think? This kid is in the ICU, you think it was rough? “The kid was super sick. “Sick enough to be admitted to the ICU “and he looked miserable. “You couldn’t touch him without him crying, moaning in pain. “It was terrible. “I think it’s easy for us non-vaxxers to ” A nurse just said “us non-vaxxers”. Nurses are the most trusted profession according to surveys. More trusted than physicians. I’m just gonna leave that there for a second. They are more trusted than physicians. “It’s easy for us non-vaxxers to make assumptions “but most of us have never and will never “see one of these diseases. “By no means have I changed my vax stance, “and I never will, but I wanted to share my experience “and how much worse it was than I expected.” What did you expect? What your anti-vaccine cohort is telling you? Which is measles is a natural function of growing up and is a self-limiting illness that doesn’t cause any problems but some little pimples on your face that get better, and getting it naturally is a great idea, and vaccines have wrecked children’s health? That’s what you believe, huh? Hmm. “Well, maybe this was an extreme case. “Maybe most fair better, but this poor kid was bad off “and as a parent, I could see vaccinating out of fear. “Seeing it made me a little more humble, “and maybe a little more understanding. “I’ll continue along with my little non-vax journey “with no regrets, but I’ll definitely have more compassion “to those who vehemently vaccinate.” You mean the vast majority of educated and uneducated people in this country. You are the outliers by denying decades of research and one of the greatest public health triumphs. Now this bit was screen captured along with the first comment response to it. Listen to this. I’m not gonna say this person’s name because it will humiliate her, because she deserves to be humiliated, but I’m not gonna say it. “Um, sunlight can make measles painful. “He may have been exposed to too much sun.” That is the first comment to this comment about a kid in the ICU at Texas Children’s who is struggling with measles and is sick enough that this nurse who is anti-vaccine, felt compelled to post about it. This is the level of stupidity, misunderstanding, ignorance and just, and this is why we have resurgent measles. ‘Cause we’re not immunizing everybody. We’re losing our herd immunity and this kid who traveled abroad, now comes back, He was too young to be vaccinated, all right? And now he’s sick and here in this country we have people who choose not to vaccinate and then they are exposing kids who are too young or they have immune disease that they cannot be vaccinated to this disease that is potentially life-threatening as is shown by this person, in the ICU. And this is the comment. “Sunlight can make measles painful. “He may have been exposed to too much sun.” And am I using a mocking tone? Yes because these people deserve to be mocked. We as educated, even if we’re not educated, as members of a civil society should shame and have no tolerance for people who are threats to public health through pure ignorance, fear, and stupidity. And when that person is a nurse, is a member of the tribe of health care, they need to be pointed out. And so this is what happened. That was screen captured, along with the next comment she left, which is this. “Sorry guys,” This nurse left this comment. “I worked way too hard and owe too much in student loans “to jeopardize my license, so I deleted “a lot of my responses. “I love my job, I love being in healthcare. “I really want to keep info to a minimum “and if when this case makes news, I’ll elaborate. “Love you all. “Keep strong in your beliefs,” You pieces of crap, “We are all on this journey for a reason “and we are not wrong in our beliefs/convictions. “I’ll share more as I feel comfortable.” Okay, so it was clear that she realized her job could be threatened due to what ended up happening, which is it being classified as a HIPPA Privacy Violation to talk about a patient using any patient identifiers, PHI. Patient, the Patient Health Information and this is what she did. So the other comment that she left next, listen to this. She’s responding to the same woman who left the “Sunlight can cause measles” comment and this is what she said. “Um, well, so and so, still waiting on lab results. Those take days. He had traveled internationally to a region where wild measles is very common, so my guess would be it was wild measles.” By the way, another HIPPA violation. And then this is what we circled. “I’m not kidding that I thought about swabbing his mouth and bringing it home to my 13 year old.” Now this comment was not reported in the subsequent press storm that happened. She actually joked about taking a swab from this sick child and bringing it home and naturally infecting her probably unvaccinated 13 year old child. Do you understand this is a nurse at a children’s, was a nurse at a children’s hospital? She is talking about spreading a highly communicable disease in the community because of her belief that natural immunity is better than vaccines. Just let that set in for a second. Well here’s what ended up happening. One of the Z-packers, long time z-packer, found this message, shared the screen shots with Texas Children’s Hospital, her employer, who immediately wrote back, “Thank you for your message. “We are aware of this situation and have started a “thorough investigation of this employee. “We take these matters very seriously and view this, “and this employees’ view does not represent that “of the organization.” Suddenly the press got ahold of this. It went viral. The next day this nurse is fired. So here’s the question. Was she fired for anti-vaccine beliefs? Should that be a possibility? Or was she fired for a HIPPA violation? Sounds to me like she was fired for violating the social media policy and the HIPPA policies of that hospital. As a care member of the care team for this patient she is a covered entity under HIPPA. Meaning she’s bound by the rules of HIPPA, which means she cannot share, in unencrypted channels, patient health information, PHI. Private Health Information. In this case, and that, by the way, if you’re thinking about sharing patient stories, think again because the definition of that is much broader than you think. Sex, age, condition, hospitalization status, any of those things potentially could be considered PHI, depending. And in this case, the fact, People are like, Well is wasn’t a HIPPA violation, it could’ve been anybody. No, it couldn’t. There were only that case of measles, right? So, you’re already narrowing it down. Then she says oh, he got it from travel. You’ve already given history, so this is this is clearly a terrible idea to share this information. Forget about the vaccine stuff. Let’s take some comments. Tom, what’ve we got?
– Jessica says, “As an RN, unfortunately, I know “a lot of anti-vax RNs.”
– Yeah, and I’m gonna tell you this, There are anti-vaccine doctors. They are insane. They have no credibility. You know, people like Mercola. People like Tenpenny, who doesn’t even have a license anymore, isn’t board certified in internal, in emergency medicine anymore. We know these characters, and there are some that are opportunists that will write exemptions for money, and things like that, so we know those guys. The truth is, I don’t think the public trusts those guys that much. Nurses, however, have a deep trust because there isn’t the sense that they’re in this for a bunch of money. There isn’t the sense that they make money from prescriptions and care and treatment and vaccines, so people really lean on them. When they violate that trust, and there are a butt-ton of anti-vax nurses. There are a butt-ton of anti-vax people throughout the healthcare spectrum, very few doctors, but the doctors that are there are, you can just tell they’re just coo coo. With nurses it’s trickier because they’re otherwise great nurses. They just happen to hold this fixed belief that is incorrect in most cases. Now, with the one in this particular group, there is a particular violation of trust. The idea that she is violating private information, talking about a patient who’s afflicted, you can tell by her description that she’s actually quite affected by how sick this patient is and probably quite surprised because guess what? We don’t see these diseases because of the success of vaccines. That’s why it’s the first time the ER docs are seeing it. ’cause we pretty much eradicated measles until the anti-vaccine movement took vaccines out of some percentage of the population and now we’re losing the herd immunity and it’s coming back, okay? So, she’s violating the trust. She takes care of children, which means she’s advising parents not to vaccinate. And here she is, coming to this group after seeing this sick patient and still cheerleading and then to add insult to injury, to add pestilence to plague, she is saying that she’s gonna, thinking of swabbing this kid’s cheek and spreading it to her kid like it’s a chicken pox party, which is also a really stupid idea, because children can die of chicken pox. I have seen it. Until you’ve seen it, you can’t talk. So shut up. Gah, I get so furious when trusted members of the healthcare profession do this. Now people are gonna say isn’t it her first amendment right? No, it is not your first amendment right to break the law and violate HIPPA. Is it your right to have anti-vaccine beliefs? Sure, and it’s my right to think that you’re a danger to others and a public health threat and should be fired from your job. And that’s what happened here. Not ’cause of the anti-vax stuff, but ’cause of the HIPPA stuff. But I think you should be fired for for actually ever holding these beliefs. Because, you know what? This is a private employer. All right, I’m not gonna hire Tom Hinuber if I think he’s a racist psychopath, right? Or maybe I’ll give him a raise, I don’t know. But it’s my prerogative to do that. And I think in health care, holding these beliefs is dangerous, damaging, and antithetical to everything we train and to the hypocratic oath, and all of that. Other comments.
– People have this erroneous notion today that the first amendment means I can just say whatever I want with no consequences. No, you get to say whatever you want. It doesn’t mean there are no consequences, especially in private matters like you just pointed out. I mean, and the great thing about the first amendment, is it lets us know that there are these idiots out there. Because if you’re a racist, if you’re an anti-vaxxer, if you’re whatever, you say it, and then we get to be like Oh, thank god, this person had really shitty thoughts in their head and they let the rest of us know, and now we’re all a little safer because we can get them out of our community.
– I will fight to the death to protect the first amendment. Partially for those reasons, ’cause then you know where people stand.
– And there’s also this thing about like, okay, we’re publicly shaming this woman. Although we’re not using her name, right? The reason we’re doing so is actually, I think, righteous. Because people insulate themselves in these bubbles. This woman watched a child die of the measles and she goes and runs back to her little anti-vax message boards and goes “Don’t worry, I’m still part of the tribe, heh heh.” Like, we need to pop that bubble in a big way because people are not doing it for themselves.
– And I wanna clarify the child didn’t die, but the child is sick as a dog in the ICU and for her to go back, and I’m on my little anti-vaccine journey, Okay, everything Tom said is correct. She has the right to say those things. She doesn’t not have the right to avoid the consequences that come from what you say. No Facebook group is truly secret or private. Anything you say online can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion if it comes out. I lay myself out every single day and I’m willing to take the consequences of what I say. I’ve said some things that I mildly regret and then I talk about why I regret them. In this case, she is feeling the consequences and one of the consequences that we have been really bad at doing, and I wanna differentiate between nurse on nurse lateral violence and bullying and public shaming of somebody who is a danger to others. In this case, this person has put their beliefs there. We are now taking those and going, this is why these are dumb, dangerous, and this person should lose their job. First amendment on both sides. Now, if you think that it’s just the Z-pack that does this to others, if you think that our movement is just here to shame and humiliate and hurt people, you’re absolutely wrong. It’s to protect children and those who cannot protect themselves. And if you think that the anti-vaccine movement doesn’t do this, you’re wrong. There was a Z-packer, recently, in the last year or two who reached out to me because she had posted a comment just as a joke saying, “you know what, I think if, “if a patient, if a mother doesn’t want their child to get “a vaccination, I feel like whoops, I made a medical error, “I would just vaccinate them anyways.” It was a joke, and probably not in good taste, right? But the anti-vaxxers took her screen shot, sent it to the board of nursing in Texas, this was in Texas as well, and had her harassed. People were doxxing her, pulling up information about her. Sending, you know, reviews and horrible threats to her and this is what the anti-vaccine people have been doing forever. I talked to Paul Offit, I read an early copy of his recent book called Bad Advice. He has been, he’s a big vaccine proponent, He has been physically threatened. He has been verbally attacked in person. People will stalk him. This is a tactic, a long standing tactic, of the anti-vaccine movement. Now, when our movement, which really stands for truth, science, reason, right? Discourse. When our movement takes their playbook and just copies and pastes and sends it to the employer, suddenly all kinds of legal action’s threatened and all kinds of oh my gosh and you can bet that this is gonna be a massive poop storm. Because they’re getting a taste of their own medicine. If you’re gonna have these beliefs and you’re gonna take care of patients in a Children’s Hospital, you better be prepared to stand up and take the consequences. What do you think Tom Hineburg? Comments?
– Mark, Mark, Mark-kwa-rette? Sorry if I butchered your name. Says, “I’ve been an RN for 25 years. “Since when did sharing personal opinions “with patients and families become okay?”
– This is a great question actually. I want to talk about this just very slightly. A lot of patients will ask us, what would you do for your loved one in this case? And I actually think that is a very important question to answer. So a lot of times, I will say look, the data says this, preponderance of doctors would say this, if this were my mom, knowing what her wishes are and that, I would do this. So, they actually rely on us to give us, to give a little bit of a human connection on that. So sharing our thoughts is not necessarily verboten, it’s not actually forbidden. It’s when it’s an, this is a true opinion because there’s no science to back up what she’s saying. And in this case what you’re doing is you’re undermining the care team, so the rest of the team is saying, listen, you gotta vaccinate. Here’s a child with measles who was too young to be vaccinated apparently, before they went on this trip. And got it in a different country, came back, now is suffering with this terrible disease in an ICU. By the way, and all our thoughts are going out to this child and their family who are suffering. And this press is not making it better. We do wanna be able in a position to give our personal experience and thoughts. This is why this is such a direct violation. Because it has already been established. This is not a debate anymore. This is like saying oh they didn’t land on the moon. Except it causes death and harm and disability when we don’t vaccinate. If you don’t believe people landed on the moon, you’re just an idiot. If you believe the Earth is flat, you’re just a moron. You’re not hurting other people, except for to hurt their brains with your stupidity. But with vaccines, if you’re a nurse and you’re going on the board and being like, “I would swab his cheek “and then give it to my child for natural immunity.” You are not only dumb, you’re dangerous. And that’s what differentiates this. This is where it’s like running into a theater and yelling fire and causing a panic and causing people to be stampeded to death or trampled to death.
– I think that’s a good place to wrap up.
– Tommy T-Bone, so let me —
– That’s a good place to wrap up.
– Let me end by saying this. I am very proud that members of the Z-pack are willing to take personal risk to bring to light when this kind of thing is happening. We have been attacked, we’re used to it. We in the sort of pro-science community are used to being shit on and attacked. I’ll tell you right now, you’re gonna see a ton of anti-vax idiots commenting immediately on this video, and they’re gonna be like, “Oh my god, look at Z-dogg’s face. “He’s got dark circles and some weird pimples, ’cause he “went to the dermatologist and had some “disease removed because he’s vaccine injured.” That’s the kind of stupidity, we’re willing to take those ad hominems, that’s fine. It’s just dumb. What is different is we’re willing to stand up and actually do the right thing for our patients, our children, our communities, and this was a great case of that. If you think this is something you wanna be a deeper part of. If you wanna have sort of more personal conversations around this stuff, and the topics. If you wanna support our show and support all this stuff that we do and give us a bigger voice, and help go to bat for Z-packers, too, who are under attack, feel free to click that become a supporter link and you can become part of this sort of sub-tribe group that we have. Obviously, if you don’t wanna do that or you don’t have the resources to do that, hit share instead, spread the word, keep learning and teaching others, and doing what you do. Z-pack, we love you and we out.
– Yo, Z has just straight up lost his shit. He’s just not gonna take it anymore. ♪ There is so much a man can tell you ♪ ♪ So much he can say. ♪ ♪ You remain my power, my ♪ See I’ve really lost it, I’m singing Seal. ♪ Kiss from a rose ♪