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How Private Is Your Placenta?

nurse with baby

Credit: Micah Sittig

A nursing student posts a picture of a placenta on Facebook. What happens next? Uproar. Mayhem. Expulsion from the nursing program. And now, my discussion of placentas! Yay!

The four students tied to the placenta pictures (har har. Or should I say “yuck yuck”?) were temporarily dismissed from the nursing program and will be able to reapply in August. One student is suing the school because she had plans to graduate and move, and the little expulsion is throwing a wrench in her plans. Bummer.

Naturally, there are two main schools of thought: 1) It’s a placenta, not a body part. Who cares? and 2) It’s a gross violation of ethics and privacy.

I  attend both schools. Sure, it’s a placenta. Big deal. Every baby-mama pair has one. Most people are not attached to theirs (again with the jokes!), and don’t mind their placentas being disposed of with other medical waste. (Those of course who decide not to eat them or plant them under trees, that is.) But: Did the owner of the placenta in question give permission to photograph and post the placenta in question? And isn’t it a slippery slope? If a nurse taking unapproved pictures of a placenta is fine and dandy, what’s to stop her from taking other unauthorized images and using them for her own entertainment?

The issue isn’t whether it’s a placenta or a severed foot. The issue is patient privacy. And patients shouldn’t have to worry about anyone at a hospital—nurse, doctor, custodian or otherwise—taking a picture and posting it on social-networking sites. Not to mention that a nurse taking pictures and posting them sets a bad precedent and is about as unprofessional as it gets.

What do you think? Do you think the school went too far in expelling the nursing students? Would you care if it was your placenta in question? I’d love to hear your placenta point of view! —Erin

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3 Comments
  1. Bug's Mom says:

    Eeeeewwwwww. I could care less what happens to my placenta afterthe baby falls out (which hopefully is any second now). They can take a picture, frame it, sell it on ebay. I don’t care
    My question is why would you want to.

    I personally would need to unfriend this person.

  2. Melissa says:

    They should be expelled. That is an invasion of privacy and against any hospital or doctor’s office policies. I know it may not seem like it is a big deal, but it part of a person’s body and should be treated with privacy just like any other part. I work at a hospital and you would be fired for doing that. Even at animal hospitals that I have worked at, you would be disciplined for violating patient confidentiality… and were talking about pets.

    My only question would be if they were aware of the company’s social media policy before engaging. If that had not been discussed, I could see them not understanding, but I would imagine that the girl about to graduate would have taken an ethics course by now at least.

  3. Mnmspecial says:

    I personally think the school did these students a favor by teaching them some ethics. If they would post this how safe should a mother/patient feel that other pictures may have been taken & have yet to be posted? I’m due next month and I would be very unnerved to know nurses with cell/cameras are perusing the delivery rooms.