Buttocks photo, patient initials lead to doctor’s dismissal
The lawsuit against Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI, filed by Catherine Puetz, MD, outlines the incident that led to her dismissal. This is a summary:
The incident occurred on Aug. 5, 2013, when the former associate medical director of emergency services saw a picture of a patient’s bottom on Facebook that was posted by an emergency department nurse. Puetz thought she recognized the woman’s buttocks as belonging to someone she had seen in the ED and also outside of the hospital. She posted a comment to the photo that read "OMG. Is that TB?"
A nurse also posted a comment to the photo that read "I like big butts and I cannot lie ," a line from a song by Sir Mix-a-Lot. When the exchange was reported to hospital officials soon after, Spectrum Health investigated and took "appropriate action," according to a statement released by the hospital. Puetz, an employee of Emergency Care Specialists, an independent contractor that provides emergency department staff to Spectrum Health, was fired. The nurse that quoted the song lyric was reprimanded. It is not clear how Spectrum disciplined the nurse who posted the photo. Spectrum Health declined to comment and Puetz’s attorney could not be reached.
Puetz recently filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Spectrum Health Hospitals, President Kevin Splaine and Vice President Jeanne Roode.
In her lawsuit, Puetz contends that she submitted an apology to the nursing director and was assured by the chief medical officer that her job was not on the line. Nine days after the posting, however, Puetz was notified that she was being dismissed as associate medical director in emergency services but could continue to work as an emergency physician. Five days after that, she was told that she could not practice medicine at any Spectrum Health facility.