Responsibilities of Nurse with Regard to Social Media

 

Write essay on topic : what are the responsibilities of the registered nurse with regards to the use of social media?

 

Introduction

With the advent of internet, use of social media is expanding rapidly through numerous social media channels & platforms. Netizens use social networking websites, blogs, online chat applications and forums to interact with others and disseminate information at fast rate.  Social media is proving to be a valuable and exciting tool in modern day to day life. 
Registered nurses too are fond of using social media in their personal and professional lives to share their experiences both at the workplace and personal life especially events which are emotionally challenging (Klich-Heartt & Prion, 2010). However, the very use of social media by registered nurses poses a risk of breaching the privacy and confidential information of patients when shared in public space intentionally or unintentionally.

Nursing and social media

Social media offer multiple benefits to healthcare stakeholders in number of ways by promoting professional networking, timely communication between patients and their near and dear ones, discuss and debate issues pertinent to education and research worldwide. Through social media registered nurses, regardless of geographical location or time zone, find a medium to express their emotions and obtain support and help from friends, peers or virtually anyone through social media networks. Thus it provides an engaging environment for helpful activities. 
Healthcare organizations often allow use social media by the employees in workplace to perform various activities. They do have policies governing use of social media by employees and regulate websites which are irrelevant for the work (“National Council of State Boards of Nursing”, November, December 2013; January 2014). However, such policies seldom address the use of social media by registered nurses outside workplace from their personal computers and mobile phones. It is in this context that there arises a risk of inappropriate use of social media platforms which has serious potential consequences. 
One example of such an inappropriate utilization of social media by Jamie (name changed), a nurse by profession, led to her termination from job. While nursing one patient Marie who was battling with cancer and was under depression, Jamie posted a message in social media to show her care and support to the ailing lady. She posted, “I know it’s very difficult to be in such a state. Hopefully the new pill will help along with increased dose of morphine”. The social media site automatically tagged the name of Jamie. However, problem arose when Jamie’s friends asked about Marie’s condition and her confidentiality and privacy was inadvertently disclosed on internet.  
Such an inappropriate use of social media by registered nurses can be detrimental to the safety and care of patient and its consequences vary depending upon the nurse’s nature of conduct. This has potential of disclosing too much information of patient compromising his/privacy and confidentiality. 

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Responsibilities of registered nurse with regard to social media

Nurses can prevent disclosing of patient’s confidential and private information by getting awareness and being cautious. They must recognise the importance of their legal and ethical responsibility towards maintaining patient’s utmost privacy and confidentiality. They should not post, share or disclose any information or image on social media of any patient unless there is a legal obligation to do so. They should not identify any patient by his/her name or share any information that has potential of revealing his/her identification in public domain (“College of Nurses of Ontario”, 2009). They shouldn’t be doing it even through privacy setting which limit access to posting generally available in social media platforms. They must consider that the comments made on the social media remain there for an extended period of time and even after deletion the servers store them permanently.
Nurses need to be aware of employer’s policy regarding use of electronic devices like computers, cameras and mobile phones in the workplace and outside of it.  The images and videos of patients should be taken in official devices for treatment or for other legitimate reasons by following employer’s policies and they shouldn’t be published online anywhere (McBride & Cohen, 2009).  In case of breach of privacy and confidentiality of patient, they must report the same to the employer.

Conclusion 

Social media provides plethora of opportunities for sharing and disseminating valuable information among health care professionals e.g. nurses who get a valuable opportunity to interact with colleagues from around the world. Nurses should be well aware of the serious consequences posed by divulging private and confidential patient’s information unwittingly. They must be aware of employer policies, professional standards related to privacy and confidentiality, state and federal laws and its application to social media. 

References

1. National Council of State Boards of Nursing (November, December 2013; January 2014). White paper: A nurse’s guide to the use of social media ISNA Bulletin, 12-15
2. College of Nurses of Ontario. (2009). Confidentiality and privacy — Personal health information (Pub. No. 41069). Retrieved from http://www.cno.org/Global/docs/prac/41069_privacy.pdf
3. McBride, D., & Cohen, E. (2009). Misuse of social networking may have ethical implications for nurses. ONS Connect, 24(17), 7.
4. Klich-Heartt, E.I., & Prion, S. (2010). Social networking and HIPAA: Ethical concerns for nurses. Nurse Leader, 8(2), 56-58.

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