Social media is a part of our everyday lives. It is important for nurses to remember that professional standards apply online. This means every post, tweet or Instagram photo could put your license at risk.
A recent publication in American Nurse Today discussed these obstacles and provided advice on how to avoid the risk that comes with usage of social media. Some key takeaways from the piece include:
- Privacy is paramount. A breach of patient privacy can lead to serious ramifications. A nurse that is accused of this violation could face termination of employment as well as disciplinary action from the boards of nursing. Examples that have led to litigation include pictures of a patient undergoing a medical procedure posted on Facebook and a text message sent from one nurse to another describing a patient “in an unfavorable light.”
- Act professional. Nurses are wise to avoid negative comments about their workplace, but this rule extends beyond professional posts. Nurses must also tread carefully with how they portray their personal lives on social media. Sexually explicit photos or posts that glamorize alcohol or drug use could also lead to disciplinary actions.
The ramifications for a misstep can happen quickly and are severe. A Texas nurse was recently fired after she posted a comment about a toddler that was diagnosed with measles on an anti-vaccination website. Due to the swift nature of the repercussions for accusations of the misuse of social media, nurses are wise to act to protect their professional interests if accused of a misstep. An attorney experienced in nurse licensing issues can help.