Nurse put pictures of patients on the internet

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A SENIOR nurse took pictures of heart patients and posted them on the internet without permission.

Louise Baxter faces being struck off after a disciplinary hearing heard about her behaviour at the cardiology unit at Stobill Hospital, Glasgow.

The images were posted on the networking site Flickr, where they could be viewed by members of the public.

The pictures showed patients being weighed, her colleagues making beds, and even an eldery patient suffering from the painful skin condition shingles.

Miss Baxter, 38, from Bishopriggs, also wrote a blog on the internet in which she revealed details about her work.

Appearing before a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in Edinburgh, Baxter admitted posting pictures and information relating to staff and patients at the hospital between January and June 2009.

However, she denied that her fitness to practice was impaired as a result of her misconduct. She claimed she did not realise the sites were public.

Nursing student Gareth Hammond said when he opened the link to Miss Baxter’s page it contained “details describing medication errors she had made” and a disciplinary procedure.

And he said the pictures posted on the Flickr site contained images of both staff and patients.

One picture was of an elderly patient with shingles and another was of a Christmas event. He added: “The photographs contained first names of patients and short descriptions of what was happening in each photograph.”

NMC representative Christopher Pataky said Baxter was reported after a student nurse was alerted to the blog and the Flickr site by a member of the public.

He said Baxter was suspended and ordered by senior hospital staff to take down the pictures and blog and make the sites private.

The blog appeared to “make light” of failings made at the hospital, said Mr Pataky.

General manager at the hospital Alan Hunter said in a statement read out at the hearing that the posts could “discourage those who might need care from attending at the appropriate health services.”

Miss Baxter said the pictures of patients formed part of an archive she was putting together of Stobhill, which was soon to be closed.

She said she would take pictures of the architecture at Stobhill, and events that took place there, for posterity.

“It was always in my mind that Stobhill was going to be closed and I wanted to record some of the place and try and capture some of the hospital as a working hospital as a place that I loved,” she said.

Baxter said she later realised her mistake. “I realised that I had absolutely no right to take these images of people and make them public without their permission.

“I was very fond of most of the patients. I’m very sorry that I might have placed them in any sort of position that might make them unhappy.”

The hearing continues.

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