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Nursing Student Expelled Over Facebook Photo, Promptly Files Lawsuit

doyle byrnesLast month, a nursing student was expelled from a community college in Kansas after posting to Facebook a photo of herself standing next to a human placenta. The student, 22-year old Doyle Byrnes, reportedly took the photo during a lab session, led by Johnson County Community College nursing instructor Amber Delphia. Four other students posed alongside the placenta, but it was Byrnes's photo that first garnered the attention of school authorities.

Not long after the pic surfaced on Facebook, Delphia called Byrnes and requested that she take it down. Byrnes complied, but the damage had already been done. All students involved in the photo shoot were soon kicked out of the program, and roundly reprimanded for their "lack of professional behavior." Now, though, Byrnes is retaliating with a lawsuit against the school, claiming that Delphia was aware of the incident and that the young nurses didn't get a fair shake.

According to the lawsuit, the students asked their instructor for permission to take a photo with the placenta, because they were really stoked, wanting to share their excitement with their friends and family on Facebook. Delphia reportedly gave her implicit consent, but warned her students that the photo mustn't include any identifying information about the woman who originally produced the placenta. (Delphia denies having knowledge of the students' plans to share the photo on Facebook.) According to the suit, the girls made their intentions clear to the instructor, who allegedly replied, "Oh, you girls."

The school, however, didn't think the photo was so cute. "We teach our students to respect the confidentiality of patient care, which extends beyond the hospital room and includes situations when the nurse is not in the presence of the patient," reads a statement from college president Terry Calaway. "The actions of the students showed not only poor judgment, but also [a] lack of respect and a complete disregard for the ethical standards of the nursing profession." Calaway went on to say that the nurses' actions were "insensitive and disrespectful toward the mother and the human tissue involved."

Judging from the photo, it's pretty clear that Byrnes and her friends didn't post it with malicious intent. The student seems genuinely excited to be holding a piece of human tissue, and it's definitely reassuring to see that she's enthusiastic about her career path. But Byrnes's actions certainly weren't professional, by any means.

Whenever we go to a hospital, we'd like to believe that the people taking care of us are acting with the utmost discretion. They're paid to take our blood, administer treatment, and help find out what's wrong with us. They're not there to use our human flesh as a prop for some puerile photo-op. Would it be nice to be treated by a nurse as eager as Byrnes? Of course. Does the student have every right to express her enthusiasm on Facebook? Absolutely. But there are a thousand other ways she could've gone about conveying that excitement, without bringing someone else's placenta into the picture -- and, more importantly, without portraying her school and her chosen profession as some sort of glorified pajama party.

Tags: expulsion, facebook, Kansas, lawsuit, nursing, photos, placenta, protocol, school, SocialNetworking, students, top