Doctor's Digital Quip Causes Online Kerfuffle

A St. Louis obstetrician was chastised on Facebook, and later reprimanded by her bosses, after joking online about arriving late for a patient's delivery because the patient had frequently been late to appointments.

"So I have a patient who has chosen to either no-show or be late (sometimes hours) for all of her prenatal visits, ultrasounds, and NSTs [non-stress test]. She is now 3 hours late for her induction. May I show up late to her delivery?" Dr. Amy Dunbar, an OB-GYN at Mercy Hospital, wrote on Facebook.

A screenshot of her post, as well comments made by other hospital staff members in response, was uploaded to the Mercy Hospital Moms-to-Be page on Facebook.

At least one member of that group was angered by Dunbar's post, suggesting that it was a violation of her patient's privacy.

"[Dunbar] should not be allowed to work with patients if she callously talks about them on her own Facebook page. While she does not name patients on her page she gives personal information about patients which could identify who she is talking about," wrote Facebook user Heather Tiedemann.

There was no identifying information about the patient in the post, a fact that hospital made clear in its response to the online kerfuffle.

"Mercy values the dignity and privacy of all our patients and we are very sorry that this incident occurred. While our privacy compliance staff has confirmed that this physician's comments did not represent a breach of privacy laws, they were inappropriate and not in line with our values of respect and dignity," read a statement from the hospital.

The hospital said it would not comment on whether Dr. Dunbar had been disciplined.