As part of our nursing ethics, it is our responsibility to our patients and to the nursing community to protect the privacy of the very people we care for, as well the institutions in which we provide patient care.
As nurses, we share many happy and exciting moments with our patients (such as the birth of a new child) as well as the most difficult and sad ones, like surgical procedures and even loss of life. These moments are tender, sacred and most of all private.
The commitment to keep personal patient matters private has been a part of the ethical code of conduct for nurses long before the invention of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The foundational principal of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of nursing conduct were a part of many nursing graduation ceremonies which were included in the resounding “The Nightingale Pledge”.
The line “I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling” reminds us of the honor and privilege it is to provide nursing care with discretion in the art of nursing.
In this age of social media, blogging and networking sites, nurses are now interlinked to patient communities, topics and issues more than ever. We have the ability to connect with our profession, share information and best practices like never before. All things considered, this immediate exchange of information can cause us to face an uneasy relationship with the Internet.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics reminds us, “The nurse advocates for an environment that provides for sufficient physical privacy, including privacy for discussions of a personal nature and policies and practices that protect the confidentiality of information.”
Nurses must be careful in thought and judgment in order to not take actions that might risk exposing sensitive or protected health information, jeopardize patient privacy or the reputation of the agencies we work for.
In the flash of a post on Facebook, or in the twinkle of a “tweet” on Twitter, privacy and ethical standards in nursing can easily be violated.
The immediate nature of information sharing on social media sites can make it challenging for health care management to monitor and regulate. As a solution, most hospitals have adopted a “no tolerance policy” and as an added measure, blocking networking and social media sites from its network.
Here is a list of the top 5 do’s and don’ts for the nursing community using social media sites: