Friending patient families on social media?

Specialties NICU


Specializes in NICU.

Hi fellow nurses, I am looking for advice / opinions...

What are the rules for friending patient families on social media after their discharge?

Background: I am a NICU nurse, and oftentimes when a baby is with us for a long time, the parents grow close to many of the nurses. I have seen some fellow nurses who are friends with some of the parents on Facebook and/or Instagram, and as much as I would love to stay in contact with some of the parents, something in the back of my mind tells me that this isn't quite right.

Also, what should be done if a baby's parents try to contact me, as opposed to me contacting them? In that instance, would it be permissible to be friends with them?

I hope that this post makes sense, and I apologize if this question has already been asked and I missed it in the archives :)

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU.

Don't mix personal and professional. Ever. Just don't. I understand that you build relationships with these families, but more harm than good could come from inviting patients to have access to your personal life.

I'm sure your NICU already has mechanisms in place for allowing parents to keep the staff updated about their children, if they so choose. If they don't, maybe you can consider working your tour hospital leadership to organize reunions or a separate webpage where families can share their progress.

I suggest adjusting your privacy settings so you can't easily be found and contacted on social media. And if a family does request, simply say that you aren't allowed per your facility.

Specializes in retired LTC.

Ditto to the recommendation to avoid media contact.

I find it interesting to think that healthcare has existed for centuries WITHOUT involved parties having to feel some need to maintain past pt/family contacts via the WEB. But now it's such a dilemma!

In SNF/LTC, I had pts discharge or die. And I did have a 'soft spot' for some of them while in my care. Same for some families. OCCASSIONALLY, I'd think about them - for a few months or so. MAX!

And I'm a nurse who went to a few select viewings and funerals. That was closure.

End of relationships.

Specializes in Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

Management tells us it's ok after discharge. The extent of my interaction is heart reactions on baby pictures. I just like seeing them get big. I generally don't talk to them, but I would never give advice or comment on medical related posts.

Specializes in Complex pedi to LTC/SA & now a manager.

Just say no. Not a HIPAA issue but may violate hospital policy. Ignore requests.

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB.

Duplicate threads merged.

Specializes in NICU.

Nurses do it but I do not nor recommend it.Isaw the story of a nurse posting something that other did not like, this stranger looked up where she worked from her FB posts,profile,and reported it to HR,she got fired or suspended pending investigation.

Specializes in NICU, High-Risk L&D, IBCLC.

Count me as another that refuses to mix my personal and professional lives; as such, I have never friended former NICU families or current coworkers. We have plenty of nurses that do, but that's on them. I like my personal life drama-free, and friending former NICU families seems like trouble waiting to happen.

Specializes in Nurse Scientist-Research.

The unit where I work states we shouldn't friend families while the child is in the unit. They strongly discourage but do not forbid friending families after discharge. We all know that in the past families could send pictures to the unit to update the staff but of course they get very limited feed-back (awe! She looks so awesome! What cheeks!).

In today's FB era, one thing they did I really like is the unit started a closed FB group open to graduate families and staff. This was sanctioned by management. In this space, families can share pictures and updates and get feedback from staff. You don't have to friend anyone and a responsible staff member and family volunteer (parent advisory types) moderate and make sure it doesn't become a space for soliciting medical advice or anything else inappropriate.

I wouldn't.... it is really just asking for trouble.

I wouldn't.

I had a home care case where the patient's older brother was the same grade as my son, but went to a different school than my kiddo. The mom and I got along fine, and we had a lot of mutual friends on Facebook, and wound up replying to the same post once (not to each other), but she never approached me electronically, nor me to her.

My next home care case my son was at the same school as my patient's brother--and I have the school sticker on my minivan. The parents told me to ask my son if they knew their son, but I was just honest with them and explained that it felt too close to violating privacy to me. They were very nice and understanding about it.

I've often thought of this over the years. There are always the patients that were with you for months at a time and you feel close to the families. I feel like you really shouldn't "friend" patients while they are still in-house. Wait until they've been discharged. Also, if you friended every "special" family, you'd end up with tons of people you look back and think, "who were they again?" Over the years, there will be many families special to you, but maybe not enough to keep the hundreds as friends on social media.

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