Patient Privacy and Company Policy: What Nurses Should Know About Social Media

Should you be able to have an online discussion about hospital policies that aren’t working or are unfair? What if the point of your discussion is to improve working conditions or to troubleshoot and not to cast an uncomplimentary light on your employer? Right now, the answer is “good question.”

If you’re a nurse or health care worker of any sort, if you sometimes use one or more of the many available social media options (Facebook, blogging, Twitter, etc.), if you’re worried about what it’s OK for you to do or say online, if you have a job or are thinking of looking for one, we strongly suggest you take a look at this month’s iNurse column in AJN (quoted above).

In it, Megen Duffy, RN, aka blogger Not Nurse Ratched, considers such issues as the following:

  • hospital social media policies (always read them; some are surprisingly restrictive)
  • HIPAA and potential issues raised by blogging about aspects of work
  • the ways your social media history may be mined by HR departments at prospective employers
  • the reasons why she strongly believes that social media isn’t going away and has many potential benefits, despite various well-publicized pitfalls—and why nurses need to let their input be known so that social media policies will be sane and balanced

And, since this is social media, we hope you’ll let us know your thoughts, in the form of comments. Maybe Megen will even weigh in, if you really get her attention.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

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2016-11-21T13:12:03+00:00 August 26th, 2011|career, healthcare social media|6 Comments

About the Author:

Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

6 Comments

  1. Health | -Social Media for Nurses- « September 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

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  2. Megen Duffy August 29, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I am amused that Facebook fortuitously just overhauled its privacy settings again and undid a lot of the custom ones just after this column came out. It’s like they did it to prove my point or something.

  3. Annie August 29, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Well-written reminder to all nurses, including this non-pricticing one, not to share sensitive information casually. We have seen several computer ‘hackers’ and shared information can be too easily ‘put together’ and interpreted by that hacker and spread across social media sites. So we must ALWAYS follow HIPPA guidelines-and common sense.

  4. Catherine Miglionico (@shes4Christ) August 27, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Well said you hit all the points, nurses should be careful not violate the HIPPA laws and policies. Without violation of HIPPA shouldn’t we be allowed freedom of speech? We have a tough emotionally taxining jobs. We’re not robots, we are caring compationate people. My hope is that we don’t stick our head in the sand we stand up and fight to get protection from having the job in our homes. However we Nurses need to be smart and know our policies know how to make appropriate changes and don’t violate a person’s privacy nor bash someone because of your particular agenda. Great article I really enjoyed it, you gave me some new twists to consider.

  5. silotree August 27, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Great article! You hit all the right points. Nurse bloggers shouldn’t feel fear; I had not thought deeply about how difficult a balance that must be.

    From an HR perspective, a regular issue is RN’s having their photo posted and tagged by patients — usually with a newborn baby. This makes some nurses uncomfortable. It’s important for an RN to speak up right in the moment so that the patient knows not to post. We all have a responsibility for our own stuff.

    Hopefully as more “internet natives” get into leadership positions, the strictness around policy will relax.

  6. […] comment on it here, so we can have, like, a dialogue and stuff. […]

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