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Hospital investigates nurse after offensive social media posts

Most people in the country use social media in one form or another. One estimate finds almost two out of three Americans use these online platforms to connect with others. Facebook is the most popular, but sites like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are also commonplace.

Those in certain professions are wise to use social media responsibly. A failure to do so can result in negative consequences at work. Those in the medical profession, like nurses, are one example of professionals that can experience negative consequences from social media use.

Why is it important for nurses to use social media wisely?

A misstep could put your license at risk. A recent case provides an example.

The case involves a hospital that chose to put a nurse on administrative leave after she allegedly made homophobic comments on a social media platform. The hospital removed the emergency room nurse from interaction with patients because of these comments. The nurse is now the subject of an investigation into her abilities to provide quality care to patients. These allegations could result in an additional investigation by the local state nursing board.

How can nurses use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms without a negative impact on their career?

Nurses can better ensure their social media use does not put their license at risk by following these rules:

  • Respect patient privacy. It is generally wise to avoid posting anything about a patient. No pictures. No comments. Nothing.
  • Be professional. Avoid making negative remarks about the workplace or co-workers. This also extends to posts about personal life. Examples include posts that glorify excessive drinking or other potentially dangerous behavior.
  • Recognize the limits of the site's privacy settings. Unfortunately, the privacy settings on these platforms are not as strong as we may expect. As a result, although it is a good idea to utilize these privacy settings it is also wise to recognize anything we post could enter the public domain or be used as evidence during an investigation.

Nurses who are investigated by their state nursing board can act to protect their profession and their personal reputation. An attorney experienced with licensing board investigations can review the situation and discuss available options.

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