Hi, fellow nurses. I am in quite the pickle here. To start, I had a rough night at work the other night. Being a young nurse, social media is a big part of my life. I made a post after the long night I endured, more so to describe my night. Earlier this week, I was called into a meeting with the ethics team, HR and my managers. I was told that even by the date of the tweet, it is a violation. I was told that in my new associate education, I was educated on the 18 identifiers of HIPAA. I have since gone back to verify that I was not educated on these. I also had never received a formal class regarding HIPAA and what exactly it is. During the interview I was asked what I thought it was, my answer being "name, MR#, ssn." I was asked to write a statement regarding this situation, and made sure to include that I do not feel I was properly educated on what HIPAA is or this never would have occurred. Does anyone here think I have a case? I am not sure what the outcome of the situation will be, but I intend to fight it however I can. Please, I already know how stupid this was (hindsight is always 20/20) but I truly did not believe I was breaking HIPAA or nothing would have EVER been posted.
You never need to post anything about work. Just do not do it. Even before HIPAA and social media we did not stand on street corners shouting about work for whomever passed by to hear, which is a fair analogy to what these social media actions are.
The thing is, some of these posts are not actually HIPAA violations, but that doesn't matter. I repeat: That does not matter. Employers love to mix up their own "privacy practices" with HIPAA and even further tangle things by throwing a good measure of public relations control into their policies about communication practices. In the end, it doesn't so much matter what they call it because if you violate any of these it you will likely be fired. You may get by this time with your charge about not having HIPAA training during orientation (although it's almost unbelievable that they would omit that) combined with the fact that (I suspect) you didn't really violate HIPAA but rather their privacy practices or related policies. But even if they do let you slide, I'm guessing it is your last chance.
I know I sound harsh but I suggest you get it out of your head that social media is the appropriate place for this. There is no need for it. No one ever needed to share their rough night at work with "all my friends" (and my friends' friends and their friends and anyone else who may be "following" or looking over the friend-of-a-friend's shoulder).
Since you say you actually don't know about HIPAA, perhaps you could ask to do a research paper or presentation as a disciplinary measure and in order to prove that you have become educated about the topic. You certainly do need to know about it. You should review all of your employer's related policies, too. Maybe taking a positive and proactive approach will save your job. You probably don't have a lot of realistic options with regard to "fighting it."
Take care ~
Even posting items not about your employer but that show "questionable moral turpitude" can get you fired. I've just given up on posting in social media. It's easier and I never have to second Gus's if something I posted will get me fired
They have to educate you on HIPAA if they are accredited by the Joint Commission. If they didn't, that's a big problem. Will it serve you well to make a stink? Probably not.
Obviously I don't know what you posted and it might not have truly been a HIPAA violation. Companies now believe they own us and have the right to police everything we do. Isn't late stage capitalism grand?
Ignorance of the law is not a defense.
Did you complain about your employer or did you post about specific patient(s)? Either can be grounds for termination. The employee handbook most likely has information about the corporate social media policy.
Sorry about your situation but I think it comes down to common sense re: HIPAA, I mean if you have your employer listed on your social media, and have friends that know where you work I can see how an employer would feel it was a violation. Some places take HIPAA to the Nth degree, and people have been fired for having their place of work listed and venting in a post and saying something to the effect of this hospital sucks. Its sad that we live in a big brother world but thats how it is these days.
While I have the highest privacy settings on Face Book. I make it a priority to never say ANYTHING even remotely related to work or my employer on my feed, I once joked that I post recipes, cat videos and "I love Jesus" on my page.
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