Tweet Smears Hospital's Discharge Incentive Campaign

Cheryl Clark, August 29, 2013

A tweet decrying a Baltimore hospital's effort to speed patient discharges implied that patient safety was being put at risk. How much damage was done to the hospital's reputation remains to be seen.


@Nurse_Rachel_


Tweet from @Nurse_Rachel_

The way the tweet from @Nurse_Rachel_ made it sound, a campaign by 472-bed Sinai Hospital in Baltimore rewards nurses with $10 gift cards for kicking patients out of the hospital before they're ready for discharge.

"I'm sorry very sick patient not ready to go home, but I want to win a $10 gift card!" read one inflammatory tweet from the account of Rachel Amanda, RN, whose profile boasts, "Here to care for you. Baltimore." Another of her tweets  about the incentive program that began Monday is pictured at right.

What she tweeted was hardly the true story, which I'll explain in a moment. But the damage was already done; the tweet was rapidly retweeted. (And has since been taken down.)

@Nurse_Rachel_'s followers, including journalists and healthcare providers, piled on, appending their retweets with expletive-laced comments. "What?! That's crazy," "Grossly misguided" and "nice to see patient safety comes first," they wrote.

Naturally I was intrigued. In my decades of healthcare reporting, I've seen campaigns with original good intentions painfully backfire, with opposite consequences smearing a hospital's reputation.

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