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Social Media Rules for Nurses

Well it is safe to say that society and nurses have come along way since the 1800's where smoke signals were a form of communication.   Then in 1844 the telegram was invented; and soon after came the telephone in 1876.

In 1978 the first email spam was sent to 393 users by Gary Thuerk. However, with the launch of Facebook in 2004 not to mention Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc, etc.  Nurses and other healthcare professionals have been in trouble for social media use at work and away from work.

The Risk

According to the Nurses Service Organization (NSO); social media is a "Real Risk" for nurses and healthcare professionals.  NSO presents real stories in which healthcare professionals are getting fired, or worse losing their licenses to work due to social media use/abuse. 

One story they present is about a physical therapy (PT) licensing board receiving complaints about a PT using his/her cell phone to send emails, texts, and used social media applications during the patients treatment sessions.

The actual complaint caused the board to issue a subpoena of the PT's telecommunication provider for the PT's cell phone use and activity.  This gave the PT board the information needed to confirm that the PT had in fact been using his/her cell phone during the entire Physical therapy session.   Due to this subpoena they also discovered fraudulent billing, and due to this investigation the PT was place on probation for 3 years and is now required to work supervised and have all treatments completed signed off. 

How to help Your Staff

It is probably safe to say that most of us are used to having our cells phone on us at all times and use it throughout the day without even realizing it.   If you as a company or leader want to help your staff; provided them with real life situations and cases on a regular basis.  Teach them how to avoid getting reprimanded or even fired; and in the worst case scenario losing their professional licenses.  Healthcare Professionals are governed not only by HIPAA and HITECH, but by local and state laws as well. 

Establish a Social Media Policy

A social media policy can go a long way to not only protect patients and the facility; but it will provide a guideline and set a tone in the workplace for when, where, and how to use social media. Diane Evans is Publisher of MyHIPAAGuide.com has developed an awesome continuing education course that will help healthcare professionals learn how to navigate the social media scene while working at the hospital, home care, or wherever you profession takes you.

Diane Evans is publisher of MyHIPAAGuide.com, a news and information service that helps HIPAA-covered organizations understand their responsibilities.

MyHIPAAGuide.com offers resources for self-conducted Security Risk Assessment, templates for security policies and "Meaningful Consent" Patient Privacy Notices, and much more in an online catalog of 40+ carefully-picked federally produced resources.

Provide Education

As a leader you may feel that your healthcare professionals should already know the rules and regulations; but that is not a fair assumption.  There are so many laws and regulations to follow and they change often.  Providing education serves two purposes.  It educated the staff on what is new and relevant and it protects you as an employer.  Content of education should include:
  • Rules and Etiquette of using Social Media
  • Potential Legal Issues
  • HIPPA and Patient Confidentially
  • Disciplinary Actions for misuse of social media
  • Setting Boundaries for Social Media use
Discipline Consistently

If a leader and organization does not use consistency across the board it will lead to a culture failure and higher turnover rates.  Of course, it is human nature to like some and not others.  However, in business and the professional setting consistent discipline across the board will help alleviate any legal issues and help retain the highest functioning professionals in your area of expertise.

Social Media Expectations

Social media can benefit us all; including the workplace.  However, as a leader and company we must set the expectations before the employee begins working so there are no miscommunication errors or lost expectations.  Learn now how to navigate the social media rules for healthcare professionals and save yourself time and hassle of getting fired or worse going in front the board. 

Want to learn more? Consider our 2 online courses, by author Diane Evans, dealing with HIPAA and social media, click on each course title to learn more.

Social Media Rules for Nurses and Healthcare Providers

Even if your employer is following patient privacy rules, staff can create big problems by irresponsibly taking photos of patients, and worse yet, sharing them on social media.

Earlier this year, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) released survey findings, indicating 48% of responding nursing boards (33 in total) faced social media challenges. In some cases, complaints related to images of wounds and procedures photographed on personal phones and then shared.

Think of the senselessness, not to mention the consequences of a case reported recently by USA Today. A New York nurse took photos of an unconscious patient’s penis, and the shared the photos with co-workers. The nurse initially faced a felony charge, but agreed to give up her nursing license for a reduced sentence. Nursing homes are particularly ripe for similar types of abuses involving nakedness, as ProPublica has reported.

Education can:
  • Prevent violations of patient rights
  • Create a culture of vigilance within an organization
  • Save healthcare providers the cost of fines and settlements, often in 7 figures
  • Prevent the loss of your license and employment

Responsibilities for Managing HIPAA Compliance

On July 14, 2016, the feds announced that the “HIPAA audit program has kicked into high gear.” It’s up to leadership to follow the rules, create a culture of vigilance, and avoid costly penalties.

Recent federal investigations – leading to fines and settlements -- show carelessness and neglect as primary enemies.  Social media abuses loom as well.  

In a 2016 survey co-sponsored by the nonprofit Health Care Compliance Association, participating healthcare providers ranked social media as their #1 compliance concern.

Learn how to protect patient information by putting the required safeguards in plan. This course includes real examples of how breaches can and do happen.   For healthcare employees with compliance responsibilities, this is must-have knowledge. 

This online continuing education course can help:

• Prevent violations of patient rights
• Create a culture of vigilance within an organization
• Save providers the cost of fines and settlements, often in 7 figures
• Identify potential HIPAA violations within an organization

While this course is accredited as continuing education for nurses and Florida nursing home administrators, it can benefit all who are in the position of performing HIPAA audits and maintaining HIPAA compliance:
  • Directors of Nursing
  • Human Resources
  • Assisted Living, Residential and Long Term Care Administrators
  • Healthcare Office Managers
  • Medical Records Managers
  • Any Healthcare Department manager
  • Insurance personnel
  • Any person in charge of or maintaining patient information or records
  • Any one in charge of a healthcare organization
This post originally appeared on Central Valley Medical Blog Spot by Kevin Stansbury.

Kevin Stansbury, MBA, BS, RN, CEN, VA-BC, is a Registered Nurse with over 25 years’ experience in the medical field including critical care, emergency medicine, and infusion therapy. He is currently living and working in the Central Valley of California. Kevin is a 13-year veteran of the U.S. Army where he served as a combat medic and nurse. He received several military decorations during his tours in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, including an Army Achievement Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, and the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal. Kevin also received his Expert Field Medical Badge while serving two tours in Korea.

Kevin is currently working as a registered nurse in the emergency room as well as working for Central Valley Medical. He is a Certified Emergency Nurse as well as Vascular Access Board Certified. He is also a clinical educator for Intravenous Therapy, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Basic Life Support (CPR), and EKG's. Kevin was a reviewer for the Journal of Infusion Nursing, the Journal of Emergency Nursing, and the Journal of Association for Vascular Access for 4 years. However, his current focus is on Emergency and Legal Nursing. He currently serves as a reviewer for the Journal of Emergency Nursing as well as serves on the ENA Peer Review Committee. He is also a current member of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA.) Kevin is also a lead clinical educator for several clients in California that require him to provide Restricted Health Care Plans and training for the special need clients.

Kevin also writes online nursing CNE for Pedagogy, his courses include:

ACLS Prep Course
Advanced Airway Management
Blood Spill Management
Bloodborne Pathogens
First Aid
Hazard Communication
Intraosseous Infusions
Moderate Sedation
Understanding Dystonia
Workplace Harassment

Posted: 2/13/2018 4:45:03 PM
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