In the Media: Group Helps Nurses Navigate New Social Media Terrain

    • February 26, 2012

During a pediatrics rotation, a nursing student named Emily treated a young boy with diabetes. As the boy was getting ready to leave the hospital, Emily used her cell phone to take his picture and then posted it on her Facebook page, along with comments about the bravery he displayed while receiving insulin injections. A few days later, Emily was expelled from her nursing program for violating federal privacy laws.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), a national non-profit nursing organization, tells this story in the opening of a new video that is designed to educate nurses about the importance of patient privacy in an era during which social media use is exploding. It is part of an effort to teach nurses about professional boundaries in a social networking environment.

Social and electronic tools like social networking sites, personal blogs, video sites and online chat rooms have “tremendous potential for strengthening personal relationships and affording nurses a valuable opportunity to interface with colleagues from around the world, but also carry the risk of inadvertently revealing private and confidential patient information,” warns a NCSBN news release.

To help nurses navigate the new electronic terrain, NCSBN released resources in January designed to help make nurses aware of the potential consequences of disclosing patient-related information. Resources include a video called “Social Media Guidelines for Nurses” and a brochure called “A Nurse’s Guide to the Use of Social Media.” All the new resources can be downloaded without charge.

“It is vital that nurses remain mindful of employer policies, relevant state and federal laws, and professional standards regarding patient privacy and confidentiality and its application to social and electronic media,” the announcement states.

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