As a nurse, it is your duty to protect patient privacy and confidentiality. Below are six principles for social networking for nurses from the American Nurses Association (ANA).
1. Nurses must not transmit or place online individually identifiable patient information.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule mandates that all patients have their right to privacy. This means that no matter who comes into your facility, you may not share information about that person with others.
2. Nurses must observe ethically prescribed professional patient — nurse boundaries.
As you connect with the patients who come through your doors it's tempting to share your bonding experience with others online. Don’t. Never share photos of your patients or write posts with information about your patients.
3. Nurses should understand that patients, colleagues, institutions and employers may view postings.
You never know when a patient or potential employer may search your Facebook profile. Post nothing online you wouldn’t want them to see – especially something that will make them question your ability to withhold confidential information.
4. Nurses should take advantage of privacy settings and seek to separate personal and professional information online.
Social network privacy settings are updated and changed regularly. It’s a good idea to check your settings periodically to make sure the information you want to keep private stays private. It’s also wise to Google yourself to see what comes up in a search. Post nothing negative about your place of work or your colleagues.
5. Nurses should bring content that could harm a patient’s privacy, rights, or welfare to the attention of appropriate authorities.
If you see that one of your colleagues has posted something online about a patient ask yourself, “Is it violating their right to privacy? Their rights? Or their welfare?” If so, notify a supervisor immediately.
6. Nurses should participate in developing institutional policies governing online conduct.
One of the great things about a career in nursing is the respect that comes with the job. Take it to the next level and get involved in creating online conduct policies for the nurses with whom you work. According to the American Nurse Association, “Online content and behavior has the potential to enhance or undermine not only the individual nurse's career, but also the nursing profession.” This is why it is so important to take their Principles for Social Networking Seriously.