Nursing and the Social Media Battlefield

Since the advent of social media, we’ve navigated through a proverbial mine field.  And, sadly, some of us haven’t made it.

As we’ve dodged, skipped, and jumped through the ‘no man’s land’ of social media, the Maxim machine gun of management has cut us down.

Well, it’s time to stop the carnage.  We will prevail, adapt, and overcome.

It’s time to mount up, strap on some armor, and grab a weapon, we’re going over the top.  I’ll lead you through the barbed wire, booby traps, and sniper fire.  It’s time to go on the offensive.

Social Media Dictum #1: Don’t be an Idiot!

If you want to survive and keep your job, don’t be an idiot.

Please, don’t post patient info on Facebook or Tweet pictures of the cute little babies you’ve just helped deliver.

If you do, you’re likely to get picked off by management.  And this wound’s usually fatal.

Social Media Dictum #2: HIPAA!

If you’re a nurse, please understand HIPAA.  The Health Insurance Portability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal statute ensuring the protection of patient privacy.

If you didn’t already know, failure to comply with HIPAA can result in civil and criminal penalties (42 USC & 1320d-5).

If you violate HIPAA on accident or on purpose, you can receive fines ranging from $50,000 to 1.5 million per year.

And if really screw up, you’ll spend some time in federal prison.  If you violate this Dictum, you’ve just fallen victim to rancid punji sticks.  Please, reread Dictum #1.

Social Media Dictum #3: Remain Ethical!

As nurses, our job isn’t to hurt, humiliate, or harm patients.

If your patient does something stupid, don’t take a picture to preserve it.  And please, don’t post it on Pinterest.

We may find it funny, even hilarious, but it isn’t funny when you’re sharing delicate, confidential information.

It’s true, we see some pretty amazing stuff, but it’s important to remember your humanity and duty to protect patient dignity.

If you fail to do this, you’ve just been hit with a flamethrower.  Please, reread Dictum #1 and #2.

Social Media Dictum #4: Use Commonsense!

Commonsense isn’t dead, use it.  I don’t recommend friending your co-workers on Facebook.

Don’t—it’s just a bad idea.  Also, don’t add your patients; it isn’t in good taste, nor is it professionally appropriate.

If you violate these rules, you’ve fallen victim to friendly fire.  Please, reread Dictum #1, #2, and #3.

If you violate any of the above Dictums, you’re playing Russian Roulette with your career and reputation.

It’s fine to use social media, just do so responsibly.

In a sense, once you post something, it’s like a bullet fired from a gun – you can’t get it back.

If you do everything listed above, you’ll survive “No Man’s Land.”



Jacksonville University School of Nursing