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Nursing2015 Critical Care

September 2012, Volume 7 Number 5 , p 16 - 17


  • Cynthia Saver MS, RN


Social media provides many opportunities for nurses. You can talk with peers on Twitter; connect with nursing organizations, journals, and friends on Facebook; and network with other nurses and professionals through LinkedIn. You can collaborate with nurses in your own hospital and around the world.And you can get yourself fired. In June 2010, five nurses at a California hospital were fired for allegedly discussing patients on Facebook.1 Although the National Labor Relations Board has recently filed complaints against companies that have fired employees for Facebook postings, why expose yourself to the risk?2Here are tips for reaping the benefits of social media while avoiding its perils. * Adhere to privacy regulations and standards. The American Nurses Association (ANA) standards and code of ethics and regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protect patient privacy and address the nurse/patient relationship, but apply to social media too. ANA has specific guidelines for social media use.3You might think changing the name of the patient and a few details is sufficient, but someone could read separate entries on separate sites by separate people and put together a patient's identity.4 Keep your comments general, without referring to specific patients. For example, you might say, "in my experience with multiple trauma patients in surgery." Use hypothetical case studies, don't talk about a specific hospital, and avoid time frames (use "in the past" instead of "yesterday" or "last week"). * Don't become friends with patients or patient families. This helps avoid crossing the professional boundary between nurse and client. You might think that once a patient's surgery is over and he or she leaves the hospital or ambulatory surgery center, your professional relationship has ended. However, you could end up seeing the patient again for another surgery.5 If you receive a friend request from a former patient, one suggested response is, "Thanks

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