A neonatal intensive care nurse has been fired after being accused of mocking a sick child on social media.
Sierra Samuels, a nurse at the hospital since 2016, was working in the neonatal intensive care unit when she shared two photos of a newborn with gastroschisis, a birth defect of the abdominal wall that causes the baby’s intestines to protrude from the body, on Instagram.
The photos were captioned with:
“My night was going great then boom!”
“Your intestines posed (sic) to be inside not outside baby! #gastroschisis.”
According to hospital spokesperson Lidia Amoretti, sharing photos of any kind violates Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act policy. Samuels was initially placed on administrative leave while the hospital conducted an investigation.
An initial statement from the Jackson Health System in mid-September said:
“Employees who violate these privacy rules, despite being educated, are subject to disciplinary action including suspension or termination. As soon as we learned of this potential breach, we immediately placed this employee under administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1,800 babies are born with gastroschisis each year.
According to CDC, Gastroschisis is a birth defect of the abdominal (belly) wall. The baby’s intestines are found outside of the baby’s body, exiting through a hole beside the belly button. The hole can be small or large and sometimes other organs, such as the stomach and liver, can also be found outside of the baby’s body.
The causes of gastroschisis in the majority of infants are unknown. Some babies are born with gastroschisis due to a change in their genes or chromosomes.
Gastroschisis may also be caused by a combination of genes and environmental factors, such as what the mother comes into contact with in the environment, what she eats or drinks, or certain medications she uses during pregnancy.
It occurs early during pregnancy when the muscles that make up the baby’s abdominal wall do not form correctly. A hole occurs which allows the intestines and other organs to extend outside of the body, usually to the right side of belly button.
Because the intestines are not covered in a protective sac and are exposed to the amniotic fluid, the intestines can become irritated, causing them to shorten, twist, or swell.
Soon after the baby is born, surgery will be needed to place the abdominal organs inside the baby’s body and repair the hole in the abdominal wall. Even after the repair, infants with gastroschisis can have problems with nursing and eating, digestion of food, and absorption of nutrients.