Unpacking the Nurse Katherine Locklear controversy: Are you Violating HIPPA?

Updated: May 23



The 2017-2018 flu season was a killer, literally. A frustrated Nurse Locklear from Escambia County, Florida turned on her camera after a 12-hour shift and provides the public with some helpful tips and facts about the flu:

  • Wash your hands, don’t just rinse them.

  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze.

  • 1 out 8 people are testing positive for the flu.

  • You can take X amount of Ibuprofen if you’re a big guy and less if you’re not.

  • “If you have teammember from your softball team who is sick or injured, you do not bring the entire softball team in to check on them. Because guess what, you just got maybe 15 new vectors or carriers of the flu … There is a cesspool of funky flu at the ER right now.”

And then, her YouTube video went VIRAL.

Reactions of the world wide web:

Nurse Lockler racked up over 9 million views and became an overnight internet star. People from all over the world thanked her for informing the public on the basics of the flu.

And then for her educational, viral video – someone reported her to the Board of Nursing.

Watch Nurse Locklear’s Video

If you haven’t seen Nurse Katherine Locklear’s video, you can watch it hereHERE.

HIPPA Violation

She’s as cute as a button and sincere in her attempt to help others. But nurses around the world kept chiming in and questioning whether she violated HIPPA privacy regulations. Could she face disciplinary action, monetary fines, temporary or permanent loss of her nursing license by the board of nursing?

You be the judge!

There’s a petition going around to help defend her. Many of those people have commented that she gave BASIC information in good faith, others take issue with her delivery, sarcasm, and tone. And others take issue with her giving vague medical advice without a disclaimer.  Some argue that if you were in that hospital that day you could easily figure out whom the patient was by her description and location.

AOTA and Social Media

If you are interested in additional articles, I scoured through the AOTA website to see how they feel about our role as Occupational Therapist’s in regards to social media usage.

I found the following two articles:

How to Use Social Media as a Professional Development Tool

Where Does Occupational Therapy Fit in the Social Media World? 


When in Doubt

When in doubt, use caution, ask a colleague, don’t be a Nurse Locklear.

For additional social media guidelines and training, contact the association’s social media staff at social@aota.org.

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-est. May 05, 2017-