Yes, this is a huge pet peeve of mine, but I also think it gets into a gray area of HIPAA.
Here’s what HIPAA says (bolded part at the bottom is my emphasis):
Protected Health Information. The Privacy Rule protects all “individually identifiable health information” held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information “protected health information (PHI).”12
“Individually identifiable health information” is information, including demographic data, that relates to:
- the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition,
- the provision of health care to the individual, or
- the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual,
and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual.13 Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number).
I do not want to see a status update that you’re at a birth. Or heading out to a birth. I feel a liiiiiiiiittle sketchy reading that you’re just home from a birth — but I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ll assume that you asked the client if you could talk about it on Facebook and she gave you her blessing.
I will not give you credit for not mentioning the client’s name because COME ON NOW. Birthy people all know each other, especially in areas where homebirth isn’t legally recognized. If I know that three women are due around the same time, and are having homebirths and I happen to see that two of them recently updated their Facebook statuses and one hasn’t updated in a day or two, or I run into one at the grocery store… it’s just not that hard to figure out where you are and who you’re with.
And yes, I’m a total stalker.
How did I learn to keep births off social media? Oh, you know me: the hard way.
I posted — not on Facebook, this was before Facebook, probably even before MySpace — once about a birth I was at where something REALLY weird happened. Nothing to do with the birth itself, just a weird thing happened. And a midwife saw my post and totally nailed me about sharing private information that was not my place to share. By sharing what had happened at the birth I’d shared the following
1. I was at a birth
2. It was a homebirth
3. This weird thing happened
Most of my doula-Facebook-friends are smarter than me. They do not post that they’re in the middle of a birth and something weird (or totally normal) is happening. But I do occasionally see a status about a great birth or a beautiful laboring mama or something birth-related. STFU, please! I don’t want to know! It’s not my business! (Which seems weird, right? Isn’t everything my business?!?!?) Let the mama post and let me hear it from the horse’s uterus.