Nursing and social media: Facebook policy for healthcare professionals


Vera Averina

By Vera Averina, Product Manager, Gannett Education

There isn’t a better place than Facebook when it comes to addressing social media issues. Last week we posted a question on our page, “Is it a violation to post a Facebook picture of a nursing home resident?” The whopping number of replies (you can check all of the 900+ comments here) from “If you don’t know the answer, you have no business being a nurse,” to, “They should put this question on the NCLEX,” made us want to explore this topic further by challenging your knowledge of social media policies with a quiz below and providing additional resources on this hot topic.

Read this case study and let us know your answers in the comments box.

Mary, age 22, has hundreds of friends from high school on Facebook. While on the surgical unit in the only hospital in her hometown, she took care of her former high school chemistry teacher. She later wrote about it on Facebook and her discomfort when she had to catheterize him after his prostate surgery. She never mentioned the teacher’s name, but word got around town about his hospitalization and Mary was fired.

1 ) Mary was fired because of:

A. Mentioning discomfort with catheterization
B. Providing enough information to identify the patient
C. Mentioning her job on Facebook
D. Taking care of a patient who had been a teacher

2 ) Suppose Mary had not been assigned to care for her ex-teacher. Which action would be considered a HIPAA violation on her part?

A. Saying hello to the teacher in the hall
B. Greeting other former teachers who came in to visit
C. Helping a visitor find the teacher’s room
D. Viewing the teacher’s medical records

3) Mary’s hospital has a social media policy. Breaking which guideline probably related most directly to her firing?

A. Avoid using your hospital e-mail as your primary means of identification
B. Do not engage in social media activities during work
C. Do not use hospital equipment for your social media purposes
D. Be aware that employees are personally responsible for everything they post on Facebook.

Check your answers and become a Facebook expert with our CE course:
Facebook – know the policy before posting.  This course is free till March 16, 2014.

Additional continuing education resources:

Social media: Give your career a boost.

Networking for nurses: Is it important? This course is free till March 24, 2014

Networking for career advancement.  This course is free till Dec. 31, 2013

Welcome to — leading the conversation about nurses’ professional lives, news and ideas. Follow our blog and be where the nurses are.

7 Responses to Nursing and social media: Facebook policy for healthcare professionals

  1. Pingback: Nursing and social media: Facebook policy for healthcare ... - Healthcare Social Media India

  2. Hi
    Social media provides many kind of benefits like connecting with new friends, old friends and colleagues. We can join groups of our interest (Nursing Groups) for knowledge and building our own network of nurses. Many companies have also started recruiting people through social networks like LinkedIn. However, we need to respect other people’s privacy and think about this while sharing information.

  3. Debra Mayberry says:

    Facebook Know the policy before posting. Answers : B, D, D

    i am confused about what I need to do to get CE credit.

  4. Social media and HIPPA violations are invading not only healthcare institutions but schools of nursing as well. Our school is in the process of, in conjunction with our student nurses association, jointly writing a social media policy with great emphasis on ethical issues, reporting of incidences, and due process. Is anyone else finding this a problem in their school of nursing and if so how are you handling this or do you have a social media policy in place? Any ideas anyone is willing to share?

    • Muryel says:

      Yes, the school I attend also has a Social Media guide for nurses. It is to safe guard the privacy and confidentiality of patients in the health care context. There is so much information out there on the net that it is nice to know that there is a safeguard to protect the information that is so personal.

  5. jennifer says:

    Is there an actual article about Mary? I am doing a paper for a class and would really appreciate a link if it is out there. Thank you!

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