Before you post your next picture or comment on social media there are some things you should consider.
False: Apost is private and accessible only to the intended recipient.
False: Content deleted from a site is no longer accessible.
False: It is harmless if private information about patients is disclosed if the communication is accessed only by the intended recipient.
The moment something is posted, it lives on a server that can always be discoverable in a court of law.
Social media and electronic communication usage has increased dramatically over the past few years. People are using Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and various other platforms at both home and work to communicate with others. The use of these platforms can be an excellent source of education and a way to communicate with like-minded people. When using social media it is of the utmost importance that you remain compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations at all times.
HIPPA Regulations, Confidentiality, Privacy and the Use of Social Media
Health care organizations that utilize electronic and social medias should have policies governing employee use of social media in the workplace. Components of these policies often address personal use of employer computers and equipment, personal computing during work hours and the types of websites that can be accessed from employer computers. Many healthcare organizations also maintain careful control of websites maintained by or associated with the organization, limiting what may be posted to the site and by whom.
Confidentiality and privacy are equally important, however markedly different in terms of definition.
Confidentiality is safeguarding patient information.
Informationshould be shared only with the patient’s informed consent, when legally required or where failure to disclose the information could result in significant harm. Beyond these very limited exceptions a nurse is obligated to safeguard confidential information.
Privacy is the patient’s expectation to be treated with dignity and respect.
Privacy relates to the patient’s expectation and right to be treated with dignity and respect. Effective nurse/patient relationships are built on trust. Patients need to be confident that their most personal information and their basic dignity will be protected by the nurse.
Breaches of patient confidentiality or privacy can be intentional or inadvertent and can occur in a number of ways. Nurses may breach confidentiality or privacy with the information they post via social media sites. Instances of breaches can include comments in which patients are described with ample enough detail to be identified, referring to patients in a degrading or demeaning manner, or posting videos or photos of patients without their consent.
It is a HIPAA violation to mention a patient by name or divulge any information that could be traced back to a patient.
Instances of inappropriate use of social and electronic media are on the rise and may be reported to the Board of Nursing. Laws outlining the basis for disciplinary action by a Board of Nursing vary between jurisdictions. Depending on the laws of a jurisdiction, a Board of Nursing may investigate reports of inappropriate disclosures on social media sites by a nurse on the grounds of:
Moral turpitude (defined as conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals)
Mismanagement of patient records
Revealing a privileged communication
Breach of confidentiality
If the allegations are found to be true the nurse may face disciplinary action by the Board of Nursing, including; reprimand or sanction, assessment of a monetary fine, or temporary or permanent loss of licensure. There are State and Federal laws established to protect patient privacy and confidentiality. Violation of State and Federal laws may result in both civil and criminal penalties, including fines and possible jail time. Nurses may face personal liability and be individually sued for defamation, invasion of privacy or harassment.
Nurses have an obligation to maintain patient privacy and confidentiality all times!