Labor & Employment
7 Doctors and Nurses Suspended for Playing Facebook Photo Game at Work
Posted Sep 10, 2009 1:05 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Seven doctors and nurses who apparently didn't have enough to do while working overnight in a hospital emergency department last month reportedly decided to play a popular Facebook game.
Now officials say their participation in the "lying down game," in which participants post photos of themselves lying down flat, with their arms at their sides, in unlikely situations, violated health and safety and infection control rules, reports the London Times.
The seven, who are accused of lying down to be photographed on resuscitation trolleys, ward floors and the helipad of the Great Western Hospital in Swindon in the United Kingdom, have been suspended with pay and may face further disciplinary action including possible termination, the newspaper reports.
A Facebook page about the game says that it is intended to confuse people and cautions players that "the originators of the lying down game cannot be held liable for any accidents, injuries or criminal proceedings resulting from participating."
However, Michael Maslanka, a Texas lawyer who specializes in representing employers in labor matters, tells the ABA Journal in a telephone interview that incidents like these shouldn't be blown out of proportion.
"I'm no infectious disease specialist, but ... let me put it to you this way: Possible dismissal?" he asks rhetorically. "You've got to make a proportionate response to the issue at hand, that never changes. That was good advice 50 years ago, before we had the Internet, and it will be good advice 50 years from now."
Rather than punishing employees severely for one incident of bad judgment, a hospital should use a situation like this as a training opportunity, he suggests. "You shouldn't be goofing off at work, but it's a slow night. As long as patient care isn't suffering, I just think this is an opportunity to educate people in the hospital."
As Maslanka admits, he himself learned this useful life lesson of principled compassion from swearing in Arabic late one night while working as a hotel desk clerk years ago, before he went to law school.
He discusses in detail the steps he would take in determining whether the "capital punishment" of termination is needed in a Texas Lawyer article last year.