The Navy's top doctor has banned all workers' personal cell phones from patient areas, and directed all Navy medical staff to participate in a 48-hour "stand down" after Snapchat posts from a pair of Navy corpsmen calling newborns in their care "mini Satans" went viral across social media early this week.
The photos and at least one video were taken at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida; posted to Snapchat; and then shared to Facebook. The corpsman who posted them has not been officially identified.
"I have directed immediate mandatory all-hands stand downs within 48 hours at all Navy Medicine commands to review our oaths, our pledges, our reasons for serving, as well as Navy Medicine's policy regarding use of personally owned phones and other recording devices," Vice Adm. Forrest Faison, the Navy's surgeon general, said in a statement issued Wednesday.
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"At every level of the enterprise, we must send a clear message that Navy and Navy Medicine leadership take every allegation of offensive and unacceptable online conduct seriously and will hold responsible individuals accountable for their actions," he wrote.
"I have also implemented an immediate prohibition of all personal cell phones in patient care areas until further notice," he continued.
Faison ordered all commanding officers across the Navy hospital system to "personally contact" both current and expecting mothers who plan to deliver at a Navy facility -- potentially thousands of patients worldwide -- to "reassure them, inform them of our actions, and address any of their concerns."
He also ordered leaders to "ensure no additional patient photos exist on social media" and remove any that do.
A statement posted to the Naval Hospital Jacksonville Facebook page first identified the pair as "junior enlisted corpsmen," but was later edited to read "two staff." Both have been removed, according to the statement.
The statement indicated that the posts are of a single infant and the parents have been notified.
"We have identified those involved ... they will be handled by the legal system and military justice," the statement said. "We've notified the patient's parents."
Navy Medicine provides all medical care on both Navy and Marine Corps bases worldwide.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.