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Facebook Posts Could Put Your Nursing License in Jeopardy

by  |  General

Seemingly overnight, social media has become an integral part of our lives. When something, big or small, happens in our lives, our next step is to post about it on our favorite platform, whether that is Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), or Snapchat. While this is perfectly fine to do with the cute family photo you just snapped, you have to be extra careful about what you post on social media if you are in the medical profession. Unfortunately, nurses have faced serious consequences from the state nursing board based on content that they have shared on social media. Anxious about what you can and cannot post? Want to avoid being accused of professional misconduct? Read on to learn the big “no-nos” on social media for nurses.

Venting About Your Job

Nurses are some of the hardest-working people out there. Days can be incredibly long, and sometimes bosses or patients can be very rude. It may be very tempting to reach out to others in your network and complain about how awful a patient was or how inconsiderate your boss was. You might also complain about the resources at the medical facility. However, any of these sorts of posts can be used by your employer if they discover them.

Posting Confidential Information

Some nurses have also done things such as posting a picture of a patient or writing a post about a particular situation. In addition to this being very inappropriate, it could also violate HIPAA. Patients have a right to privacy when they visit a medical facility. That patient could take this information and file a complaint against you with the state nursing board. 

Do not think that if you make the post cryptic by removing identifying information that this is enough to protect you. Even though you may not name a patient, there could be enough information for others to guess that you are talking about a specific patient. Similarly, do not think that you can take a picture of a patient from the back or place a “sticker” over their face to protect their identity. Patients must give their consent (typically in writing) to appear on social media. 

Being Featured in Unprofessional Conduct

“Unprofessional conduct” may seem like a pretty vague term, so you have to use your best judgment. When you think about the qualities of a nurse, what would you expect? Certainly, you expect someone who is trustworthy and competent. Some actions–even though they are not in themselves related to nursing–can give the impression that you are being inappropriate or unprofessional. Those photos may be used as evidence against you or utilized in a disciplinary action taken by the state’s nursing board. Be careful about appearing in photos where you are out drinking and partying hard. Even if you are not in a photo, do not post about how drunk you were.

Offering Thoughts on Politics or Other Hot-Button Matters 

People have a variety of opinions about matters going on in the world, and that is perfectly fine. However, depending on what those opinions are, they should be kept private rather than public. For instance, if you have an opinion about a certain community of people or political event that is going on, and you share that opinion, it could be found to be discriminatory or offensive.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself Online 

You may be fearful that you can never post anything again and need to delete all of your social media accounts. That is not true. Here are some things you can consider to keep yourself and your nursing license safe.

Set your account to private.

Setting your account to private will greatly limit the content that others can see. Again, setting an account to “private” in itself does not protect you. People can still “screenshot” your content and share it. 

Use a different name on social media.

Another step to take on social media is to use a different name online. Many people will use their first name and last initial or a different name altogether. 

Do not let people “tag” you in any content without being approved.

Many well-meaning people will “tag” you in a photo or post to talk about a great night out, for instance. This is not a good idea. Going into your “settings” and requiring you to approve those tags can help you avoid being tagged in an unprofessional post.

Let your friends know the seriousness of your job.

Talk to your friends about how social media can impact your license. They probably just are not aware of how your job could be jeopardized.

Do not post about work/patients online.

This is probably the biggest “no-no.” Never post about a patient or your job online. You may want to vent about, or even get praise for, something that happened during your shift. If you do this, you open yourself up to major lawsuits violating privacy. Additionally, do not take pictures or videos of patients, especially during medical procedures, and post those online.

Think before you post. 

Posting about something has almost become like a reflex in our society. Slow down and really think about whether your post is necessary or going to add value. Consider how you might feel if you saw a fellow nurse posting the content. After serious consideration, you may then post.

Find other places to vent.

Nursing is one of the most stressful jobs out there. It is important for nurses to be able to talk about their experiences with others. However, social media is not a good outlet to do so. 

Contact an Experienced Georgia Medical License Defense Lawyer 

Social media can be a fun experience, even for nurses. However, it can lead to serious legal issues, depending on what you post. If you have posted something inappropriate and your job/nursing license is threatened, contact an experienced Georgia medical license defense lawyer today.

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