Career Resources / Social Media and Nursing
Social media guidelines for nurses
Social media is a great outlet for nurses to express their feelings and seek support from friends, family, and colleagues. However, healthcare workers must be mindful of their usage. Here’s a look at three must-follow tips and standards provided by the American Nursing Association for nurses using social media.
Posting any PHI (Protected Health Information), without patient authorization, on social media may constitute a HIPAA violation. These violations include:
- any text, image, video, or other media identifying the individual as a patient of the practice
- any media where patients of a practice or PHI are visible
- posts that include enough detail that could identify the patient
- responding to patients posting an unfavorable review of a practice or citing a disagreement with a practice
Even seemingly harmless videos of nurses doing nice things for their patients can fall under these violations. To be safe, nurses should share photos and/or videos of patients only if the patient authorizes and consents to this information being shared.
Do not transmit patient information
You can’t use social media to transmit any form of individually identifiable patient information. You can discuss various aspects of your workday with a patient, but you can’t provide any identifiable data.
For example, if a patient gives you a ‘thank-you’ card for the care you’ve provided. On the inside of the card, the patient has signed their name. The front of the card, however, has absolutely no personally identifiable patient information.
So, you can make a post on social media using a picture of the front of the card, but not the inside. Also, keep in mind that you can’t say the patient’s name or the location in which they are receiving care.
Observe ethical patient-nurse boundaries
Although it is always encouraged for nurses to be warm and friendly towards patients, it’s important to maintain boundaries. In order to maintain proper conduct in patient-nurse relationships, it is inappropriate to communicate with patients outside of care. This includes not adding patients on any form of social media, no exchanging numbers, and obviously, not meeting outside of the healthcare facility.
Understand the privacy of posted content
Just because a nurse posts content on a personal social media profile doesn’t mean certain co-workers and patients won’t see it. This is especially true when nurses don’t separate their personal and professional profiles.
When nurses publish content, they never know when social media followers and friends will share the content with their own network. As a result, unintended parties may be able to see the post in question.
So, to avoid this, it’s highly recommended that nurses separate personal and professional profiles to take advantage of privacy settings.
If you have not recently reviewed your social media privacy settings, don’t wait to check on them. You can choose to allow only certain groups of people to view your information by making your profile private. If your privacy settings are correctly set up, a hiring manager, patient, or anyone other than who you choose won’t be able to view your content.
When in doubt, play it safe
Taking a conservative approach to what is shared with the public is the best option for nurses in most cases. Consider changing your privacy settings and always be aware of how what you’re posting may impact yourself, your patients, and your employer. In fact, it is even recommended that you do not disclose where you work or any of your colleagues.
More than half of hiring managers (57%) found inappropriate behaviors when screening candidates that lead them to not hire someone. The last thing nurses want when preparing for an interview is to hurt their chances of getting a new nursing job because of a careless post.