Should nurses post on social media, HIPAA violation?

  1. As I am sure many of you guys know by now, recently an ER nurse posted a video on Facebook regarding the flu.

    She went on a long rant on how people should be vaccinated for the flu and that people should not have visitors in the hospital during flu season in the ER. Additionally she jokingly showed the viewers how to sneeze into their elbow to avoid spreading germs.

    She was also kind of cracking jokes about patients and situations she has]d witnessed while working in the ER.

    I am curious your guy's opinions. Do you feel that her posting on social media violated hipaa and what is your opinion on these types of videos or posts?

    My personal opinion is this, I do agree with a lot of what she was saying regarding spreading the flu and primarily staying home while you have the flu to prevent getting others sick. I personally don't think she violated hipaa as she did not mention any patients names or anything that would be able to identify them.

    However, based on a recent article I read, someone turned her into the board for violating HIPAA and I would love to hear what you guys think.

    Comment below!
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  2. Visit Alexx_xox profile page

    About Alexx_xox, ADN, RN

    Joined: Dec '17; Posts: 171; Likes: 140
    from US
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience

    27 Comments

  3. by   NurseCard
    Yes, if she were talking about patients and situations and being specific enough,
    than I believe that it could be considered a violation.

    I never get on social media and talk about work. I may post funny
    cartoons and such about being a nurse, but that's about it. I don't
    go on there and rant about my job. I don't mention my job
    period. I don't even post pictures that were obviously taken
    at work; I do know a nurse who does this and I think it is a very
    bad idea.
  4. by   Alexx_xox
    Quote from NurseCard
    Yes, if she were talking about patients and situations and being specific enough,
    than I believe that it could be considered a violation.

    I never get on social media and talk about work. I may post funny
    cartoons and such about being a nurse, but that's about it. I don't
    go on there and rant about my job. I don't mention my job
    period. I don't even post pictures that were obviously taken
    at work; I do know a nurse who does this and I think it is a very
    bad idea.
    I truly am curious, why do you believe it is a bad idea if she isn't posting any personal patient info?
  5. by   MaryJ5683
    It is a HIPAA violation only if she discloses PHI such as name, social security number, health conditions, without a patients consent. She just wanted to educate her audience to avoid spreading the flu
  6. by   Alexx_xox
    Quote from MaryJ5683
    It is a HIPAA violation only if she discloses PHI such as name, social security number, health conditions, without a patients consent. She just wanted to educate her audience to avoid spreading the flu
    Yes! That's why I said my opinion is I didn't think it was bad. But apparently some people did think so
  7. by   NurseCard
    I haven't seen the video. I can't watch it on this computer.

    A wise nurse refrains from posting MANY things on social media,
    pertaining to the job. Employers can and do watch what you
    post, like a hawk. I don't post pictures obviously taken at
    work MAINLY because we aren't even supposed to have our
    phones out.

    ER nurse in, I believe NYC, took a picture of the ER after a
    code. Place was a shambles. Equipment, towels, blood,
    supplies lying everywhere. Posted this on social media.
    She got fired. She didn't violate HIPAA. Nothing to
    identify any one patient.

    Employers don't like when you take pictures at work or
    of work. Employers don't like you to go on Facebook
    and talk about the job, or your patients. Whether or
    not you are ever violating HIPAA, which I'm sure the
    nurse in the video probably did not.
  8. by   smf0903
    Quote from NurseCard
    I haven't seen the video. I can't watch it on this computer.

    A wise nurse refrains from posting MANY things on social media,
    pertaining to the job. Employers can and do watch what you
    post, like a hawk. I don't post pictures obviously taken at
    work MAINLY because we aren't even supposed to have our
    phones out.

    ER nurse in, I believe NYC, took a picture of the ER after a
    code. Place was a shambles. Equipment, towels, blood,
    supplies lying everywhere. Posted this on social media.
    She got fired. She didn't violate HIPAA. Nothing to
    identify any one patient.

    Employers don't like when you take pictures at work or
    of work. Employers don't like you to go on Facebook
    and talk about the job, or your patients. Whether or
    not you are ever violating HIPAA, which I'm sure the
    nurse in the video probably did not.
    But she did violate HIPAA as the caption of the picture said "man vs train" or something like that. So unless NYC has 500 people hit by trains every day, it was a HIPAA violation because as soon as that name hit the papers/news everyone would know who they treated in that trauma room.
  9. by   NurseCard
    Ah, but she wasn't fired for violating privacy laws, she was fired
    because the post was "insensitive".
  10. by   pass.the.mic
    She had a opinion. The powers that Be want you to abandon free thought. Your personality must cease to exist. If you conform to be an ideal RN you will enjoy a life of mediocrity and become a shell of yourself. Some people need to be told how to live. I'll be clawing my way up this mountain to get out in the meantime.
  11. by   Triddin
    A lot of it depends on your employers social media policies. I know that if I identify myself as an employee of my workplace, anything I post is considered as a representative of that workplace even without identifying myself as an employee, as long as someone knows I am a nurse, they can look me up on my b on ' s website and find out where I work.

    Given that once something is posted, it can never be fully deleted, I personally will not post on social media. I still have opinions. I still have crappy days and phenomenal days and days that I'm shaking my head. But what do you get from posting online? Likes and comments validating my experience? The risk that my post will go viral? I personally don't think that is worth my career. If I need to vent, I can debrief with colleagues. If something is bothering me, I should address it with who ever is bothering me.
  12. by   idkmybffjill
    I don't think she violated HIPPA, but I don't really think it was a smart decision to post this type of video while still in uniform, mentioning specific things that occurred that day, on a Facebook account that I assume was set to public (as the video couldn't have been shared if the video was set to private) and thus could be connected to her workplace. To me, there's a difference between this and even posting a video out of uniform and using more general situations, even though that would still be iffy. I would reserve this type of rant for friends, not the entire public. I don't think every thought needs to be posted online, especially with how easily things spread and go out of control.
  13. by   Kat_Law
    I watched the video and LOVED it! She didn't mention any specific situations or patients. I felt like all the situations she mentioned were very general and could be said by any nurse about any hospital. I personally loved it. It was comical, but also informative! I could understand if she started describing some purple-haired lady coughing up a hairball and not covering her mouth (totally just made that scenario up btw), but she didn't. I actually felt it was a great (and comical) public safety announcement AND it was memorable. Y'all wash your hands!
  14. by   Alexx_xox
    Quote from smf0903
    But she did violate HIPAA as the caption of the picture said "man vs train" or something like that. So unless NYC has 500 people hit by trains every day, it was a HIPAA violation because as soon as that name hit the papers/news everyone would know who they treated in that trauma room.
    Okay, I did not realize the caption myself I just watched the video and found it funny!

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