By Leslie Francis
A recent unpublished decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals brings the perils of sectoral privacy law into sharp focus: Furlow v. Madonna Summit of Byron, 2020 WL 413356 (Minn. App. 2020) (unpublished). Minnesota protects patient health records but not, apparently, photographs of patients posted on social media by health care facility staff.
V.F. was a patient at Madonna Summit of Byron, a senior living facility with independent living, assisted living, and memory care units. Jane Doe was a nursing assistant at Madonna. After V.F. pulled a fire alarm, annoying Jane, Jane snapped a photograph of V.F. and posted it on her personal social media page. Jane captioned the photo: “This little sh-t just pulled the fire alarm and now I have to call 911!!! Woohoo.” The photo contained no further identifying information. It didn’t name V.F., say where she lived, or identify Jane Doe or where she worked. It was, however posted on Jane Doe’s personal account, thus identifying Jane Doe to those with access to her account. V.F.’s personal representative sued for damages under the Minnesota Health Records Act. The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld dismissal of the complaint, concluding that the social media post was not release of a “health record” under Minnesota law. Read More