The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media in Healthcare

By Jenny Palmgren, BSN, RN, Clinical Nurse Manager, MSSI

Social Media outlets are the current trend to voice a frustration or determine how to handle a situation. As a healthcare provider, there is a fine line posting this way as it can breach HIPAA.

Healthcare providers need to be aware how posts can affect patients, the organization they work for and potentially damage their career.  Everyday leaders are having to engage in conversations with staff regarding what they posted and or commented on. These such posts and comments can lead to a disciplinary action, up to termination.

Below are a few tips that should be followed when posting on social media:

Do’s

  • Always follow HIPAA guidelines or social media policy for the organization employed with. Do not share anything that can identify a patient, regardless if they give you permission to share information or a picture.
  • If you are to mention the place of employment or any hospital you are on contract at; disclose your role, connection to the company and be professional. If there are errors in your statements or communications are not accurate, it will reflect negatively on you and your employer.
  • If you see any posts from other co-workers, or patients that are confidential, it should be reported immediately to your supervisor.
  • Represent your profession positively. Have pride in what you do.

Don’ts

  • Never speak on behalf of employer or the facility. If media or press inquire about a comment, you should always decline to comment.
  • Do not discuss a situation involving your employer, any travel staff or other facility employees without their permission.
  • Do not discuss or share any information that is confidential. This includes information about contracts-financial or clinical dates, regulatory concerns, or HR issues. There is a responsibility to respect and protect the privacy of other travel staff.
  • If your post would negatively impact the employer or the facility’s reputation do not refer to your employer, the facility and do not disclose your connection to either party. A negative post may shed a negative light on the organization or community, and may lead to termination
  • Never friend a patient or family member online, this can lead to unanticipated sharing of information about your job and role that can be seen by others.

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