Being Safe with Social Media

Because of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, nurses are more connected to the world than ever before. While it is wonderful to be so connected to other nurses around the world, and to keep up with current and former co-workers outside of the workplace, it is imperative that you follow some basic rules to keep your patients and yourself safe at all times.

HIPAA – Be Careful!

This is probably the most important piece of advice. While you may want to share a situation or convey emotions you experienced during a shift to gather support from friends and family, it is essential that you make sure whatever you are sharing does not include ANY patient personal information. This includes patient name, age, gender, diagnosis, etc. If there is any doubt in your mind whether your sharing of information would violate HIPAA, don’t do it, play it safe instead!

Social Media Policies – Check with HR

Most human resource departments have put in place policies to help guide employees in how to act on social media. Obviously these policies will have you avoid any type of HIPAA violation, but they often also address sharing of any information regarding their institution. If you are advertising yourself as an employee of ABC Hospital, its likely they would not want you to share personal pictures or stories that may cause friends, family or the public to have a negative impression of that organization. While your employer is putting in place these policies to protect themselves, they are to protect you just as much.

Stay Private

The best way to protect yourself from negative consequences is to keep your social media profiles set to private, accessible only by family and friends. Many professionals choose to have a separate facebook account for family and friends versus co-workers. Others choose to politely decline friend-requests from any co-workers whatsoever. This choice is obviously very personal and is based upon the culture within your particular organization. 

Stay Positive

This one sounds quite obvious, but avoid bashing your employer openly on social media regardless of whether or not your profiles are set to private. Most institutions frown upon their own employees spreading negativity about their workplace. 

By following these simple guidelines, you can feel better knowing that your social media use won’t cause possible drama at your place of work, or even cause the possible loss of your job.