Social Media and Patients

  1. There's so much to consider when nurses login to any social media platform. Can your employer or potential employers see things you'd rather they not see? Are you violating HIPAA? Are you protecting our trusted profession's image? It's enough to make a lot of people avoid social media altogether.

    Now let's add another obstacle to the gauntlet of social media: patient friend request.

    I had my first one a little while ago. I had already decided when I took my nursing job that I would not be connecting on a personal level with past, current or potentially (recurring) future patients. I didn't really think about it much, even though I know some of my co-workers are linked up to some of our "frequent-flyer" patients on various platforms.

    Then it happened.

    A patient that had a profound impact on me sent a Facebook friend request and suddenly I was truly conflicted. On one hand, I had my default setting of "no, absolutely not", but this time I also had an equal and opposing force. I wanted to accept this patient, look at all their photos, see how they were enjoying their life post recovery, give them the scoop on the unit...but then reality trickled back in.

    What about my rule? So I actually wrote about all the caveats on my blog as a way to kind of work through this issue on a public platform, to seek out others who may be like me - staunchly against blurring professional and personal lines, but also feeling the desire to reach out to people I've seen through times of darkness and light.

    I'd love to start a conversation here. I know my opinion won't change. I declined her request, but not without sending a brief and warm "I wish you well, but I don't do that" reply.

    It's a very personal decision and one that has both potential benefits and serious consequences.

    Do you accept patients as friends on social media? Why or why not? I'd love to hear from someone who is active online that feels differently than I do...speak up!
    Last edit by Silverdragon102 on Aug 7 : Reason: linking to own blog
    •  
  2. Poll: Do you feel it's acceptable to accept a patient friend request on social media?

    • No, absolutely not. Never.

      95.00% 19
    • Sometimes, depending on the patient, but usually not.

      0% 0
    • I don't know. It's never come up for me

      5.00% 1
    20 Votes
  3. 12 Comments

  4. by   NurseDrizzles
    I goofed up my poll....haha. those are the only choices you get. please comment folks.
  5. by   Orca
    Since my patients are inmates and my position prevents me from associating with anyone with a criminal record outside of work, my answer would be no - but then my situation is somewhat unique.
  6. by   Wuzzie
    Nope not ever and my patients, for the most part, are the nicest people on earth (cancer patients). It's a professional boundary I will not cross.
  7. by   Guy in Babyland
    No, absolutely never. You may set your posts to "friends only", you start venting about work or something that doesn't put your hospital in a good light. You patient replies to your post and it is shared with their friends. Next thing you know, you are in your manager's office talking about your firing.
  8. by   Cat365
    I don't even have my place of employment listed on my Facebook account. Or my previous schools.

    I don't ever friend patients, but then again I don't friend anyone that I work with either unless they are friends outside of work. I also don't friend people I've dated and I unfriend anyone who annoys me by posting 20 times a day. Hmm, this could be why I don't have a lot of friends.
  9. by   poopylala
    It's listed that I work at Hogwarts as a nurse lol I work in the burn unit and we have a lot of long term patients since we are mixed acuity and get to see our ICU patients downgrade to floor and eventually either rehab inpatient or discharged home. However, I do not ever accept friend requests and we even covered up our last names on our badges so they don't look us up. They don't need to see my personal life. I have it set to private and my profile picture is never anything I wouldn't show my grandmother. Actually, my entire facebook is something I could show my grandmother. Regardless, it's a flat no for any patient. I tell them they can come back to visit and bring cookies. I would happily accept that!
  10. by   NurseDrizzles
    Well, it sounds like the choice is pretty obvious for most of us. I know there are nurses out there who cross these boundaries. I wanna hear from you folks. No judgement or arguments...just wanna hear from the other side of the aisle!
  11. by   sallyrnrrt
    I do not accept patients friends request.... If I see them in my clinic. Environment, I explain to them, I can not communicate with a patient, let alone acknowledge they are a patient on social media, do to Hippas privacy regulations..... I did have to ""block " one patient who attempted multiple times to pvt message me......

    Keep your standard, there is too much to. Loose
  12. by   Orca
    Quote from Guy in Babyland
    No, absolutely never. You may set your posts to "friends only", you start venting about work or something that doesn't put your hospital in a good light. You patient replies to your post and it is shared with their friends. Next thing you know, you are in your manager's office talking about your firing.
    Precisely why I never discuss work on social media.
  13. by   Penelope_Pitstop
    I have a friend who's a NICU nurse and is friends with at least a handful of former NICU parents on Facebook. I think that's a bad idea.
  14. by   Zyprexa
    Absolutely not, I work in psych. Even when I worked in med-surg, absolutely not.
  15. by   BeckyESRN
    When I worked in the hospital? absolutely not!
    Now I'm a school nurse in the elementary that my own children attend, so I'm "friends" with several parents of my students(not really patients here). However, my Facebook is purely for sharing pics of my kiddos and fur baby and for baby wearing stuff. I'm still hesitant to add parents that are not a part of my daughter's class because people love drama. For a different perspective- the majority of the teachers here do not have their real name as their Facebook name, so that they don't have to deal with friend requests from overbearing parents.

close