GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Spectrum Health said it has taken “corrective action” regarding doctors involved in posting an organ and tissue from operated patients on Instagram.

“We have conducted a thorough and detailed investigation into the situation involving inappropriate posts on an Instagram account not officially connected to Spectrum Health,” the Grand Rapids-based health system wrote in an email to Target 8.

In March, photos of an organ and a length of fibrous tissue were posted on an Instagram page operated by a group of Spectrum resident doctors. In the pictures, doctors waved the items as if to show them off. The poster wrote that doctors were playing “Price Is Right” games in the operating room to guess the weight and length of various parts of the body. It appeared that a patient was still on the operating table when at least one of the photos was taken.

Target 8 recently referred to Spectrum Health about the outcome of its internal investigation.

“Our team members must follow strict guidelines regarding patient privacy and the use of social media, and this incident did not reflect those standards,” wrote a Spectrum official.

“We took into account a lot of facts (in the survey), including the Instagram posts and what happened before and after the posts,” the official continued. “Based on what we learned, we took corrective action with regard to the doctors involved. Due to the nature of each individual’s involvement, we cannot comment on the actions that have been taken with respect to each. We followed our Code of Excellence and our organization’s policies in making these decisions.

Spectrum said he could not provide further details regarding the disciplinary action taken.

“Since the incident, we have further strengthened our educational programs and monitoring of social media content to ensure this type of situation does not happen again,” the official said. “We deeply regret that this incident occurred despite strict policies and guidelines in place. ”

Target 8 asked several additional questions, including whether it is customary to bring cameras into operating rooms, but Spectrum Health did not answer those questions in its response.

Although the images did not show patients’ faces or any identifying marks, health attorneys expressed concern that such images could violate HIPAA if someone could infer the patient’s identity. depending on the date and time of the social media post, the doctors involved and the type of operation.

The US Department of Health and Human Services specifies 18 types of protected health information that health care providers are required to protect by federal law. These elements include:

  • Names
  • All geographic subdivisions smaller than a state
  • All date elements
  • Phone numbers
  • Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers
  • Fax numbers
  • Device identifiers and serial numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Universal Web Resource Locators (URLs)
  • Social security numbers
  • Internet Protocol (IP) addresses
  • Medical record numbers
  • Biometric identifiers, including fingerprints and voiceprints
  • Health plan beneficiary numbers
  • Frontal photographs and all comparable images
  • Account Numbers
  • Any other unique identification number, characteristic or code
  • Certificate license numbers

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