Social Media Mistakes: 5 Tips to Keep Nurses from Being Fired

social media

1. Remember HIPAA

Even though social media goes beyond hospital walls, practice the basic Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations as you would in a healthcare setting. By complying with these regulations, you will be protecting your patients’ privacy rights.

2. Avoid posting patient photos.

As a nurse, it is natural for you to bond with patients, however do not post photos gained from any nurse – patient relationships online or any photos in a healthcare facility – you may be reported for breaching a patient’s confidentially.
Instances have happened where healthcare workers in the workplace have taken patient photos and have suffered the consequences. In 2010, at a Los Angeles hospital, a 60 year old man was stabbed a dozen times and slashed by a nursing home resident. When he arrived in the ER, some medical providers took pictures of the man and then posted them on Facebook. Four staff members were fired and three of them were disciplined.

3. Know your healthcare organization’s social media guidelines.

Be aware of your healthcare organization’s social media guidelines. If you do violate their policies and are caught, you will not only taint your employer’s reputation, you will be tainting your own as well.

4. Do not “friend” a patient.

Steer away from friending a patient. “Friending” a patient blurs the line of having a nurse – patient relationship. If a patient happens to view your profile and it is open to the public, he or she will have access to part of your personal life. Any inappropriate pictures on your profile may violate the patient’s trust in you as a healthcare professional.

5. Avoid making comments about patients.

Do not comment about a patient. Even if you don’t use his or her name, a coworker or someone who knows the patient may know who you are referring to and report you to the proper authorities. If you do post a comment about a patient and later decide you want to delete it, you will not know how many people viewed your comment since you initially posted it.
A common misconception among nurses is that anything posted online can be removed permanently. While you can delete a post, web administers can retrieve any information that has been deleted. This information can be used against you by the court of law.
There’s no doubt social media is a great way to gain tremendous amounts of information and has made networking easier. As a healthcare professional, you are bound tightly to maintain a patient’s medical information confidential. Knowing how to use social media appropriately is vital — your career depends on it.

Originally Published on HealtheCareers