Unless you live under a rock, chances are good you’re one of the 1 billion people on the planet who have at least one social media account. However, the difference between you and the masses is that, as a nurse, you have an obligation to post in a way that respects patient privacy.
Here are 5 great tips from RNnetwork that will help you maintain professionalism and comply with HIPAA every time you post.
1. Develop Your Own Social Media Policy & Follow It: No doubt your healthcare facility has a social media policy it requires all staff to follow. While it’s important to familiarize yourself with this policy, RNnetwork advises creating your own personal policy to govern things like who you will follow and friend. They say, “you may decide not to add any patients as friends on Facebook to protect yourself from unsolicited medical questions or the risk of accidentally revealing patient information online.” Give some thought to what you’re comfortable with and then stick to it.
2. Never Post Patient Health Information: It may seem harmless to instant message a colleague about a patient diagnosis or tweet about a tough shift, but you should avoid posting any patient-related information on your social networks. RNnetwork says, “direct messages can always be forwarded or pasted elsewhere. Protect yourself and your patients by only discussing their cases in person or over the phone.”
3. Avoid Negative Comments About Co-Workers or Your Facility: Although this one isn’t a HIPAA violation, it could cost you your job or create tension between you and your colleagues. RNnetwork recommends, “Before you post anything on social media, ask whether it’s necessary, adds value and is positive. If it doesn’t meet those criteria, reconsider posting it.”
4. Post to Forums & Groups with Caution: While professional forums and groups are a great way to connect with fellow nurses and share information, they can sometimes turn into venting sessions for unhappy nurses to share their frustrations. Be careful not to fall into that trap. RNnetwork says, “If you decide to comment or start a conversation, be as civil as possible to the other participants and use discretion when posting about the company you work for. You’ll maintain your professional reputation and help other people in the group by answering their questions.”
5. Think of Your Posts as Permanent: Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back. Even with the ability to delete a post, you have no idea of knowing whether someone read or took a screenshot of your post before you deleted it. RNnetwork advises, “If you’re worried about posting something controversial or negative, don’t post it at all. It’s not worth offending your followers or risking your job.”
To learn more about posting professionally on social media, read the full RNnetwork article.