The internet era has added a crucial 4th stage where either your birth video or placenta photos appear on your blog, on YouTube or on someone’s Facebook page, thus properly validating the event. This may make a change from rustling up a quick placenta spag bol or fashioning just the cutest placenta teddy bear. After all, if it isn’t online, it doesn’t exist. When a Maryland hospital banned cameras and film crews at births until 5 minutes following the baby’s birth, you would have thought that the sky had fallen in.

Clearly, nothing must be allowed to get in the way of that all-important ‘Kodak moment’.

In another photographic ‘incident’, Kansas nursing student Doyle Byrnes was photographed with a placenta and quickly posted the happy snap onto her Facebook page, with, she said, the knowledge of her Instructor. She and three other students were expelled the following morning.


If the photo and its posting were not among Byrnes’ best judgments, the ill-considered over-reaction of Johnson County Community College and their Director of Nursing Jeanne Walsh will now become yet another case study of how NOT to understand and respond to Social Media and its implications.

Byrnes and three other students were summarily expelled from the Nursing program. Let me correct that; they were not expelled but “temporarily dismissed” according to the most ham-fisted press release that you will ever read.

In this ‘defense’ of its actions, which is worth the price of admission alone, JCCC shoot themselves in every foot possible and even manage to include the most unethical rationale for ethics ‘education’ I have ever read.

In order to be allowed back into the Program next year (and presumably at additional cost) the students were to submit to some educational reprogramming, or as JCCC say, “they have been asked to participate in a project on medical ethics, which could turn this unfortunate incident into a teaching moment for the students”. No prizes for guessing what ‘ethical conclusions’ they would have to reach in order to graduate. Nor is there any mention of their being joined in this ethical ‘teaching moment’ by the Director of Nursing, their instructors, the College President or anyone else with a shard of responsibility for understanding and managing nursing, health care and professional education in a Social Media world that is challenging every one of us.

This being America, Byrnes took the College to Court for, among other things, a complete lack of due process and asked to be reinstated. Judge Eric F Melgren wasted no time in ‘shooting down every argument, legal and otherwise, that Johnson County Community College had used to justify its ousting of Byrnes’. Not just one, but every argument.

He ordered that Byrnes and the other students be reinstated and noted that: “Today’s generation of students is today’s generation of students and I don’t know that what they did was disruptive. I think the college’s reaction was disruptive.”

What are you doing in your organisation to make sure that you don’t become the next victim of social media foot in mouth disease?

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