Nurse Leader’s Responsibility for Social Media Posts

The Legal and Ethical Issues of Social Media

Social media have become a big part of our everyday life. We use them for entertainment, sharing emotions, news, pictures, events, and other purposes. However, active engagement and self-disclosure in social media raise a lot of privacy issues. Although there is a new trend to use social media for hiring practices and internal investigations, it is essential to bear in mind that inappropriate engagement can eventually lead to employment termination or court proceedings. It is also important to remember about the legal and ethical consequences of sharing work-related information online.

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Even though a nurse is prohibited from mentioning the names of his/her patients online, there is still a risk that people will recognize the patient judging by other distinct characteristics, such as an abnormal weight, height, or a specific health condition. This violates the patient’s privacy and contradicts the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which is aimed to protect and secure the confidentiality of patients’ personal information.

According to Buppert (2016), “Healthcare providers are bound by HIPAA and state privacy rules from disclosing any information about patients unless the disclosure is necessary for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations” (para.3). Communication about the patient’s health on social media is unacceptable since it raises privacy and ethical concerns and poses risks to patients’ personal data. As reported by Denecke et al. (2015), “With respect to the patient-physician relationship, it is crucial to balance the information gained through the use of social media technologies and the possible misuse or misinterpretation of data” (p.145).

In the case of online discussions, health care workers should follow the rules so as not to give medical advice without a personal appointment, not to discuss specific people, and always use generic answers. Thus, healthcare specialists should be cautious about sharing work information via social networks and remember about legal consequences.

Nurse Leadership

Changes in healthcare facilities, which are quite common, are aimed to improve the quality of healthcare. However, all people react to changes differently: sometimes they can create resistance and a sense of inconvenience, provoking defensive behaviors. Nurse leaders can use different techniques to overcome these challenges.

According to Lippitt’s change theory, successful implementation of the project depends on careful planning, communication (responding to concerns, justification of changes), assessment of motivation, defined timeframes, feedback on progress, and teamwork (Mitchell, 2013). Effective communication is viewed as a key factor. Team members must understand how the change affects their work (The American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination, 2013). Informing about changes in a timely manner is another factor contributing to good change management since the lack of information can demotivate the staff.

Leadership skills play an essential role in change management. As reported by Mitchell (2013), “leadership, effective communication, and team working are among the most important elements for planned change” (p. 34). He recommends using a democratic leadership style as it is useful for cooperation between groups. An effective leader helps team members recognize positive aspects of the change, considers their concerns, educates, provides problem-solving sessions, and creates a plan in cooperation with the staff. Also, nurse leaders can set smaller achievable goals for team members when the global change seems unfeasible. Thus, effective communication is a core strategy to deal with the opposition during the change process, along with education, empowerment, steady guidance, positive energy, feedback, and appreciation.

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The American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination. (2013). Nursing leadership staff mentoring. Web.

Buppert, C. (2016). Does this Facebook post violate HIPAA?  Web.

Denecke, K., Bamidis, P., Bond, C., Gabarron, E., Househ, M., Lau, A. Y. S., … Hansen, M. (2015). Ethical issues of social media usage in healthcare. Yearbook of Medical Informatics, 10(1), 137–147.

Mitchell, G. (2013). Selecting the best theory to implement planned change. Nursing Management, 20(1), 32-37.

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