Nursing in the Age of Social Media: Paging Dr. Google

by BostonFNP BostonFNP, APRN (Guide) Guide Educator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Adult Internal Medicine. Has 11 years experience.

Another innocent casualty of social media's war on expertise.

Nurses have long been America's most trusted profession which places all of us on the front lines of this fight but what is our battle plan? How do we educate a general public that is becoming increasing distrustful of expertise and science and more reliant on emotional anecdotes and pseudoscience?

This article was shared with me tonight after I was trying to wrap my head around something in my own clinical practice today: my local (community hospital) emergency room called my (primary care) clinic to inform me that my patient was being transferred to a tertiary with a massive PE in critical condition. The patient was a relatively healthy middle aged adult that had developed a provoked DVT and had been put on a novel anticoagulant after a lengthy discussion about the medication, the risks, and more importantly the importance of adhering to the regimen. We had a direct discussion about the extant safety data and I answered all questions. I called the patient's spouse and was told that the patient had self-discontinued the noag three days prior after a Facebook friend had said "you can bleed to death on that medication". Spouse had urged patient to call clinic before discontinuation but that (sadly) did not happen.

I am a self-reflective provider and I had spend several hours wondering how I could have prevented this. Then I get send the above story by my wife. The truth is: this is very hard to combat and it makes me sick at times.

What is your battle plan? Have you had similar experiences? What should nursing do?

Animal House R.N.

Animal House R.N., ADN, CNA, LVN

Specializes in Geriatircs/Rural Hospitals. Has 25 years experience. 68 Posts

We continue to educate to the best of our abilities. We mourn the patients we lose and go on. Part of the problem I have seen is that no matter what we do or how we do it, people still have free will and at times we have to remind ourselves of this.


173 Posts

I love using my phone to Google a new med that I've never heard of, or to find the generic name of a particular brand of med. But as for gossip or ranting to a thousand of my closest facebook friends, I'm not doing it.


curlnbe, BSN

Specializes in Telemetry/Step Down. Has 6 years experience. 8 Posts

Do not beat yourself up. You did everything you could and educated your patient about risks vs. benefits. With patients like this all you can really do is present data in a non-judgemental way. If they decide that years of data and science are not worth it, it is on them, not on you.

When I work with pseudo-science supporters, I try to make sure they are very clear on the worst-case scenario of refusing medication/treatment and document, document, document....


NewRN'16, ADN, RN

204 Posts

When you page the provider 3 hours ago, and no response?

I once had a new admit who had same class meds sent twice on one med req!! Same class meds , different brands , on same med req.

Thank God I knew better and didn't enter him for double dose of beta blockers and the rest.

As a nurse you have to be vigilant. Not all providers provide same level of care . Stay alert and advocate for your patients!