Confidentiality is essential in nursing practice, and since the advent of social media, the topic of confidentiality has gone far beyond the confines of health care workplaces. Nurses must be conscious of what they say online as it pertains to their work-life, patients, employers and other aspects of the health care industry.
In recent years there have been numerous cases of nurses facing discipline, termination, and even legal action as a result of their online activity. To avoid these pitfalls, consider the following when you post online:
Know your regulatory expectations. This involves maintaining your professional image on and offline to protect yourself and the public perception of nursing. You must maintain confidentiality, privacy, professional boundaries and the policies of your college. Ultimately, you are accountable for what you post and share online, so you must ensure that nothing you post can be used against you.
Know your professional risks. Read the policies of your employer as they relate to social media use, if such policies exist. Remember that the information you post may be shared, causing you to lose control of your message. Importantly, be sure that your posts are made with the safety and privacy of your patients and colleagues in mind.
To ensure you are using social media responsibly, remember these 6 “P’s” of Social Media Use:
Professional – Act professionally at all times
Positive – Keep posts positive
Patient/person free – Keep posts patient and person free
Protect yourself – Protect your professionalism, your reputation and yourself
Privacy – Keep your personal and professional life separate; respect the privacy of others
Pause before you post – Consider implications; avoid posting in haste or anger