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Navigating the waters of social media as a nurse

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2019 | Firm News

You have probably heard warnings from others in your field about how dangerous to your career the use of social media can be. Perhaps you know other nurses who have faced sanctions, lawsuits or even termination because of things they had posted on Facebook or other pages.

Everyone has a different reason for using social media. Some connect with family, others promote their businesses and some simply find it relaxing to share their thoughts. Social media can an effective form of communication and spreading ideas, but in some professions, it can also create a minefield of legal issues.

Think before you post

As a nurse, you not only work under certain rules of behavior, but you also live under those rules. Often, nurses believe that what they do in their own time in the privacy of their homes does not affect their professional lives. However, this is far from true. Your professional license requires you to present nursing in a favorable light to avoid compromising the trust of the public. This includes the things you post on social media. Posting or sharing any of the following could lead to disciplinary actions:

  • Photos of your patients, even with their permission but especially when the patient is unaware
  • Videos of patients or co-workers, especially if the video places anyone’s privacy in jeopardy
  • Details about a patient’s illness, even if you omit the patient’s name and even if you are asking others for prayers or good thoughts for the patient
  • Questions about patient care, even when seeking advice from colleagues
  • Rants about patients, co-workers or superiors
  • Any posts that violate the social media policies of your employer
  • Any pictures or posts that show you engaging in illegal, unsafe or inappropriate behavior
  • Controversial posts, such as those of a political, racist or sexual nature

You may think this means you should shun social media to avoid violating any of these and other rules. However, if you consider your social media presence as part of your professional persona, you may find a way to use it reasonably. However, if the Indiana State Board of Nursing contacts you with a complaint about a social media post, you would be wise to take it seriously and remember that your future may be on the line. Contacting an attorney with experience in administrative law is a wise move.