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Question about "stories"

Posted

Growing up, my mom was a therapist. She would always tell me stories about her clients, but OBVIOUSLY she would never tell me their name, age, gender, race, etc. I now work as a CNA and some of the things that happen each day make me SO happy I want to share it with the world. I am brand new, and I'm wondering if someone that is well-versed in HIPAA could tell me if it's illegal or not to share these stories if I give out no other information? Example, "This guy at work today finally learned to walk again! So happy!". Something like that.

If you are talking about social media... Don't do it!!! I know it's tempting. I avoid any reference to patient's, even the most vague, on the internet because once it's out there you have no control over who shares it. Also, once it's out there it is out there permanently.

RainMom

Has 7 years experience.

Definitely nothing posted online - learn from prior threads. General rule of thumb: if you have to question yourself whether to say anything, then you just better not.

I think we all understand though & everybody needs to "release" a little bit. I don't see a huge problem with talking to your significant other about a good/bad pt IF you do as you mentioned above with absolutely no identifying info; keep it very general & don't make a habit of it.

In the past year, I've taken care of my husband's football/track coach & one of his classmates & each time, I darn near bit my tongue off keeping that info in!

Straight No Chaser, ASN, LPN

Specializes in Sub-Acute & Long-Term Care Nursing. Has 4 years experience.

To your friends/family in passing conversation, it's fine as long as you don't give away identifying information. Keep in mind though, that extremely unique situations are identifying in and of themselves. (IE: "My patient with two heads learned to walk today", there is a good chance there is only one person in town with two heads).

As others said, NEVER, EVER post about patients on social media. It's just too risky, and you never know who will figure out what, etc.

Something vague, such as "I love helping people learn to walk again" is totally fine, but as a rule I never mention "my patient". If that makes sense. :-)

Just stay off the social networks like FB with any mention of your work with patients. Short term satisfaction from making the comment, no matter how vague, does not trump the trouble that can come of you making that comment.

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

If looking through all of the threads at AN about posters who got in trouble by posting stuff on social media doesn't convince you not to do it, then I don't know what will.

In that case, good luck. And don't be surprised when (not a question of if, but when) it blows up in your face.

NICURN29

Specializes in NICU. Has 11 years experience.

I would like to point out that the original question had nothing to do with social media. She asked about sharing, but she did not say that she wanted to do so via social media.

I work in the NICU, and I occasionally will tell my mom things like, "One of our babies who has been with us a long time went home today," or, "We had a loss today." It's all very vague, but there are some things, both good and bad, that I want to share with someone. I am careful not to offer identifying information.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 40 years experience.

I would like to point out that the original question had nothing to do with social media. She asked about sharing, but she did not say that she wanted to do so via social media.

Well the OP did indicate a social media post...
I now work as a CNA and some of the things that happen each day make me SO happy I want to share it with the world.
"This guy at work today finally learned to walk again! So happy!".
Sharing it with the world isn't the family dinner table.

NICURN29

Specializes in NICU. Has 11 years experience.

I read it more like the cliche-ish figure of speech, "That made me so happy, I want to share it with the world!" Which is different from, "That made me so happy that I want to post it on Twitter so the entire world can hear about it!"

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 40 years experience.

I read it more like the cliche-ish figure of speech, "That made me so happy, I want to share it with the world!" Which is different from, "That made me so happy that I want to post it on Twitter so the entire world can hear about it!"

I have teenagers...:facepalm: EVERYTHING is social media!

They are pretty good but I police them regularly. ;)

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

I have teenagers...:facepalm: EVERYTHING is social media!

They are pretty good but I police them regularly. ;)

Agreed. In 1994, I would unhesitatingly agree with nicurn29's interpretation of "share it with the world."

But in 2014, someone saying that is more likely thinking about how they're going to word what they want to share on their Facebook/Twitter/Blogspot blog.

OP: if you want to tell stories in person, be very careful and remove as much identifying information as possible. Like others have said, even though something may not technically be PHI--such as that patient having two heads or the fact that your patient was picked up for streaking naked through the convention in town--any info that could possibly be used to suss out a patient's identity could lead to a HIPAA violation.

Edited by Meriwhen

psu_213, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant. Has 6 years experience.

I read it more like the cliche-ish figure of speech, "That made me so happy, I want to share it with the world!" Which is different from, "That made me so happy that I want to post it on Twitter so the entire world can hear about it!"

I read it like NICURN did. When someone first mentioned social media my first thought was "wait, the OP never said anything about social media." My second thought was "never, ever, even, never post anything on social media about work." Even the most innocent sounding or generic comments

can be misinterpreted and get you into a world of trouble.

Also, I see nothing wrong with saying to a family member or friend "one of our residents walked for the first time in months" or "I'm so happy that one of the residents made enough progress in their therapy to go back home." Again, though, keep it vague and be absolutely sure no identifying info is in those statements.

delphine22

Specializes in Quality, Cardiac Stepdown, MICU. Has 5 years experience.

My rule of thumb is, if the patient him/herself could read/hear what you are saying about them, and know you are talking about them, stop. Even with no names or identifiers, like another poster said, details make it specific. "I'm so glad I helped someone reach their functional goals this week" is better than "I helped a man walk today for the first time in months." If he were reading that he'd know it was him.

I have a second employer who doesn't want to be mentioned AT ALL on social media, including tagging yourself at their location. And I'm hesitant about posting stuff that's obviously during my normal work hours, bc I don't want to give the impression I'm Facebooking at work.

This site IS social media. I do not friend co-workers online ANYWHERE. I do not give identifiable information. I DO have the right, under the Supreme Court, to go home and say "I got punched in the face by an old lady today..." on my FB. SAME AS I WOULD HERE. FB is often my place to vent to my friends. I do not identify my employer, "like" the company page, nothing. However, if I were ever pulled in and told "a coworker has a mutual friend and she said you posted that you were frustrated..." I am fully prepared to legally defend myself.

I'm not planning on nor have I ever done it but I was wondering after reading this discussion… if your Facebook is set to 'friends only' how would the whole world read it and how would the hospital find out… On another note: i recently deleted Facebook because GOD ONLY KNOWS what is on it with all the 'liking' of this or that and comments some of my irreverent and obnoxious friends make. lol. I decided that while I'm trying to find a job to just NOT HAVE THAT ACCOUNT… but anyways, I would like to know how on earth people can post things that get them fired if it is 'friends only'…

I'm not planning on nor have I ever done it but I was wondering after reading this discussion… if your Facebook is set to 'friends only' how would the whole world read it and how would the hospital find out… On another note: i recently deleted Facebook because GOD ONLY KNOWS what is on it with all the 'liking' of this or that and comments some of my irreverent and obnoxious friends make. lol. I decided that while I'm trying to find a job to just NOT HAVE THAT ACCOUNT… but anyways, I would like to know how on earth people can post things that get them fired if it is 'friends only'…

I would imagine it is because even when you set the limits on a FB account, the wonderful power of "six points of separation" is still at work- you may restrict things to friends only, but what if your friends "let it all hang out"? Does your info hang out there too, with your friend's info?

That's a guess and a question. I'm not on FB (personal choice- not vilifying FB). When my friend attempted to convince me why I should be on there, saying the filters would allow me to restrict readership, I kind of debunked her illusions of how much you can limit by pulling up details about her through another person's page.

And Lioness333, I would agree that AN is social media, though I don't think I have the legal wherewithal to mind my P's and Q's for me so I will continue to watch what I say:linkme: