Facebook and Former Patient Friend Request

  1. I am a nursing student and one of my former patient's mother friend requested me on FB. So techinically, she was never my patient. We had a connection since her youngest son was recently diagnosed with autism and my 9 year old is severely autistic so she had many questions.

    I declined the friend request and explained that this might get me in trouble.

    My question is does this violate anything? Because technically she was really not the patient.
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    About us2uk4u

    Joined: Dec '08; Posts: 162; Likes: 214


  3. by   Quark09
    I don't really think it was violating anything. I had the mom of a peds patient send me a request after her 14-month old had a bout with MRSA; I had to start his IV in his foot... not a great experience. She had a really rough time of it; he was not an easy stick! The town I was living in was really small though, so it was hard to not run into people . I'm friends with my OB on facebook as well; she sent me a request so she could see pictures of my littlest V while we were in Korea (she's one of those doctors who gets a picture of the babies she's delivered every year; like I said, it's a small town ).
  4. by   Penelope_Pitstop
    Someone, somewhere could find a problem with it, I'm sure. But I don't really see a problem with it at all.
  5. by   Quark09
    Quote from DeLanaHarvickWannabe
    Someone, somewhere could find a problem with it, I'm sure.
    This is true

    I've noticed that with some people, you do have to be careful and set some boundaries regarding those emails that start with "Hey, I have a weird medical question for you..." Anecdotal story-swapping is cool (ex: "Hey, I read that gluten-free diets can help with some of my child's issues, do you know anything about that?" Sure, a little; here's a link you might find helpful. Your doctor might have some additional information for you. or "Hey, I have a temperature of 104.3 F and I'm vomiting blood and oozing from my rectum, should I go to the doctor?" Um, probably. Put a towel down on your seat if you're going to drive.) but if someone's pestering you for medical advice, I'd err on the side of caution and politely say "That might be something you'd want to bring up to your doctor." I have one girlfriend who told a mutual friend that she could go off her insulin and easily manage her type II diabetes with diet and exercise and received a very angry phone call from the lady's endocrinologist.
  6. by   kesr
    Interesting question, but since her reason for connecting with you is her RECENTLY diagnosed son, I think you made the right decision. If you later connect, for example, through a support group, then I think it would ok.
  7. by   traumaRUs
    You might want to do a search on this as there have been several threads recently where being friends on FB has led to issues.

    Personally, I don't let my pts, past/present, families of friends, etc. be my friend on FB.

    Better to keep work and off-work friends apart.
  8. by   rn4ever?
    I think you made a wise decision. Afterall, her intent might have been to ask medical advise from you that's why she added you on her FB account.
  9. by   cschoppe
    My son was in the hospital for several months undergoing chemo when he was 4 months old...I have since then added several of his former nurses and even docs to my FB list...they all like to see how he's doing and all thought that this would be a good way to at least see pics/updates. I am now in my 4th semester of NS and will be doing pedi clinicals at the hospital he was at and would love to run into his former family (on the pedi cancer floor it's like a 2nd home)

    I don't think it's a problem, just use your judgement... I also had a patient this semester who was 82 years old and after we got to chatting all throughout my shift she asked if I had FB b/c she wanted to add me as a friend to see how I was doing throughout NS and beyond...I said sure (she was my patient's wife) but she never sent me a request (hope her husband is ok)....
  10. by   jpizzle11
    Honestly, I think it's extremely weird for a patient or patient's mother to friend-request you on FB. I would never think to do that if I were a patient or family member...nor would I as a nurse want to be FB-friends with a former patient's family. Maybe it's just me...but I think it's inappropriate that she sent the request and it'd be inappropriate if you had accepted (though probably not technically legally problematic.) Sending you a card or picture of her child doing well (addressing it to your workplace) is a normal way for a family member to keep in touch with a nurse that she bonded with...but keeping in touch by being FB-friends definitely is not normal. Best to steer clear.
  11. by   traumaRUs
    Believe me, as staff here, you don't want to cross the line between pt/nurse - the consequences:

    1. getting kicked out of nursing school
    2. Losing your job
    3. Having the threat of either of the two

    Here is one thread:
    NLRB challenges Facebook-related EMT firing - Nursing for Nurses

    And another one:
    hospital policy on Facebook, cellphones= suspension - Nursing for Nurses

    And yet another:
    Another nurse bites the dust due to facebook - Page 15- Nursing for Nurses

    And...please think twice about posting personal info about you and your job, your patients. The internet is not private.
  12. by   Ayeloflo
    I would say steer clear. It's similar to accepting gifts and/or giving gifts. Eventhough it's may be innocent, it might be wise to use caution. To the previous responders, I don't think it's weird of a patient to request to be added on FB. These day many people are obsessed with looking on FB on the iphones, computers etc. Patients and families maybe totally innoncent when they want to be friends with you on FB. It is very important to set boundaries. Maybe you could set up a different facebook account for your "fans" (patients and their families, nurses, doctors, etc). Many famous people do it that way to help keep their private lives, private.
    If you have family members on your FB page, you might want to used caution.
    Apart from all that, when you take very good care of a patient at a point in their live when they are vulnerable, they may look at you as a very special person in thier lives and may want to be friends with you just because of that.
    It happens to me all the time. So I had to set up a separate FB account for my "fans" where I can add patients, families, etc. I hope this helps give you some ideas.
    I don't really like having to carry my picture ID on my uniform with the whole world looking at my name and pic. Some looking me up on Facebook, right away!
  13. by   Nurse_RaRa
    all great points....here's a twist = make two accounts! my bf did that when he was running for office. i also live in a small town and have encountered upsets at work! with fb wars so innane that i want to quit fb....i'm highly selective ( i don't need hundreds of friends nor do i have that many i want to know everything about me - i have even not accepted the mean girl i cheerleaded with in high school yet...and if you think that harsh? it isn't, her daughter brought a gun to her school.

    its hard to stay professional and separate your private life when you are working with someone for a long time. and didn't anyone see that news story about the woman who got fired for complaining about work on fb? She sued and won the trial. just saying.
  14. by   AntMarchingRN
    In my opinion you were right to be careful.

    I used to work ped neuro and it was always explained to us that if the 9 year old (or any minor) is your patient, thier parent is for all purposes to be treated as your patient as well... to be as cliche as possible, better safe than sorry. Good thinking.

    Oh and do not create two accounts to befriend people you shouldnt for work purposes. Nothing against Nurse RaRa, but thats looking for trouble.