Social media policies?

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It’s no secret. Social media is a new entity in the world of health care. So new in fact that hospitals around the globe are having to create policies and procedures to guide their employees on proper actions and etiquette. Are you aware there are actual policies and procedures out there regarding how nurses and other health care professionals conduct themselves on social media sites?

If you’re reading this blog post I would hope you understand what the term ‘social media’ refers to. Everything from social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Google + to the blogging platforms of Tumblr to WordPress.

If this all sounds foreign to you, lets recall the heated debate surrounding the nursing school student and their actions (earlier this year). If I’m not mistaken the student was eventually reinstated, but it motivated many institutions (both academic and professional) to create written guidelines in regards to social media sharing.

Recently I read that the American Nurses Association (ANA) released new social networking principles. Here are the first 2 principles (at the time of writing this post I was having difficulty viewing the ANA website):

Nurses must not transmit or place online individually identifiable patient information

Nurses must observe ethically prescribed professional patient-nurse boundaries

It comes as no surprise, since the majority of our communication these days is not in person. As a nurse we need to be aware of these new policies. Not only to adhere to them, but to also question their merit. I’m not saying these standards are 100% right or 100% wrong. What I AM saying is that it’s an active process that all nurses should take an active part in developing.

Does your institution (academic or professional) have a social media policy in place? Are you aware of its details, and are you adhering to them? And if your institution does not have a policy for social media in place, why don’t they?

In the end these new ‘hoops’ that we will have to jump through are put in place to ensure the safety and privacy of our patients. So regardless of how we may feel about the policies, I know we all want to make sure our patients do not get harmed.

Do you Facebook or Tweet or do any other social networking about your life as a nurse?

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8 Responses to Social media policies?

  1. swazimaci APN

    SOcial media has NO place in nursing. It is a so called private communication tool. Nurses should act professionally and keep their work and patients out of it….. do you see any doctors discussing or making references to their patients on facebook… No – they act professionally. Professional behaviour in nursing is way overdue!

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @swazimaci I agree wholeheartedly that we need to maintain our professionalism, but please keep in mind social media spans more than just Facebook and its application, and I interact with physicians on a daily basis who discuss patient centered topics that maintain their professionalism within the boundaries of social media. So it’s not just a ‘nursing’ challenge.

  2. NenaMataHari CNA

    I never go into any detail about my residents. I don’t want my bosses to say “Holy HIPPA violation, Batman!” So I will only say things very vague like “I absolutely love the residents I care for.” Or I may talk about how Alzheimer’s is such a cruel, horrible disease.

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      Good for you, thanks for setting an appropriate example.

  3. gulliver98

    I am always amazed at the number of professionals that discuss how bad their workplace is, and voice their feelings about their employers, managers or co-workers. They seem to forget that any social media site is an open forum, no matter where you are when you are on line. I must say, that most of my friends never discuss patients on their pages, or if they do it is extremely generic. This is good, and it is a learning experience also. We do tend to forget how many people are able to read our pages, but i think we are also learning very quickly how much it can make a difference on our futures!!However, I still see many people surfing on work computers, checking their e mails, purchasing items. No wonder management want to keep cutting staffing, if you have time to be on line, then you have time to care for more patients. This may hold true for those few, but for the rest of us, who do not access the internet while at work, and do spend our time caring for our patients, we are taking the hit for the lazy ones. Just my nickels worth!!

  4. Pingback: A Nurse’s Guide to Using Social Media | Mitchell Martin

  5. garcianuthouse

    When is it considered a Violation of First Amendment Rights to fire a Nurse for posting his/her personal information on his/her personal Social Media Profile if the Company, and Profession is not listed? Since when did becoming a Nurse make it ok to discriminate against Freedom of Speech rights? If a Nurse posts Pictures on her Page, not listing her company or profession and other coworkers show one another, is that considered bullying if he/she is repremanded? Why are Nurses held to higher standards than other professions when they see the. Why are Nurses DEFINED by their Profession and not allowed to have a Personal Life?