Nurses and other medical professionals are in a precarious position with social media. Their ability to access to the most sensitive information about people–health and medical details–can mean they can easily share details about patients inadvertently (or maliciously, as in these cases).
Compounding the issue is the fact that many hospitals haven’t yet addressed how to deal with social media on or off the clock, so staff are often at the mercy of discovering they’ve made a mistake after it happens (and many times, after they are out of a job). With HIPAA regulations about privacy governing what happens with identifiable data in medical settings, hospitals have to ensure they aren’t incurring the ire of the feds or becoming the target of expensive lawsuits.
The American Nurses Association is moving forward to make sure their members are armed with tools even in the absence of workplace guidance. They recently issued “ANA’s Principles for Social Networking and the Nurse” (available to members only). For nurses and other medical pros wanting more insight on how to deal with social media in the workplace, ANA is hosting a Twitter chat for nurses on social media use from 1-1:30pm EST this Friday, Sept. 23rd. You can join the chat with the hashtag #anachat.