Talk to Nurses About Facebook Before They Talk About You

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media , January 11, 2011

These cases illustrate that not only should organizations have policies in place regarding social media, but that organizations should engage in discussion with staff about their use. It's all very well to have a policy about not divulging patient details on staff's Facebook pages, but it's the smaller details and the grey areas that have got most people in trouble.

As part of HIPAA training, as well as general discussions about behavior, administration should encourage educators and managers to talk about these issues on a personal level. Most people understand that using patient identifiers on social media is a no-no. Talking about one's day, however, is a different matter and all too easy for employees to get themselves into hot water.

It's important to discuss not only patients but coworkers and the organization as well. Gossip and malicious talk about coworkers in a public setting can cause hostile work environments. The line between harmless teasing and damaging harassment is all too thin.

Talk about the grey areas, giving specific examples, and bring the issue down to a personal level. Only then will nurses understand the care they must take.

Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at
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