I have witnessed a great evolution of nursing technology in my 25 years in the profession. The internet was unheard of when I graduated nursing school in 1985. I have since completed my BSN and renewed my BCLS online. Technology allows us to share photos (flickr), videos (YouTube), bookmark (Digg), micro-blog (Twitter), blog (Blogger), socialize (Facebook), search (Google), and network professionally (NurseTogether, LinkedIn, Yahoo Groups). Some of the latest technology to impact nursing includes cell phones and social media. Today, over 900 hospitals have over 3,000 social media listings. Hospitals use mobile apps to address patient experience. The VA is allowing mobile devices to be used. GPS can track patients with dementia. Telemedicine is providing rural areas access to specialists. Medication reminder text messages improve compliance and texting programs also help people with diabetes manage their disease.
The most common technology in the workplace includes cell phones. Concern has centered on electromagnetic interference as well as infection issues. A recent study in the American Journal of Infection Control found that 43% of phones were contaminated with infective organisms. While a total ban may be unnecessary, the Emergency Care Research Institute does recommend banning cell phones in the OR and ICU settings. Patients may use cell phones to call loved ones or update Facebook status. Maintain confidentiality and follow your institution’s policy on photographing patients. In general, decline to be photographed or recorded by patients or visitors as you have no idea or control on how images will be used.
Social media facilitates communication and collaboration, provides news and information from professional and governmental agencies, and creates an educational forum. Nurses are embracing social media; 11% use Twitter; 77% have visited Facebook.
Potential employers and plaintiff attorneys may check social media sites for discriminating entries. Nurses have been disciplined or fired for inappropriate use of the Internet during work hours. While nurses and employers are concerned about privacy, social media users disclose detailed personal information. Common sense and the professional code of ethics can help protect the reputations of the nurse, patient, and profession. When using social media, differentiate between your personal and professional roles. Use the first person when participating in blogs or any social networking site to make it clear you are speaking for yourself, not your employer. Use good judgment and accuracy. Be respectful to colleagues, patients and competitors. Posts should be transparent, accurate, considerate, and respect copyright laws and work commitments.Never disclose confidential information. Consider adding a disclaimer to your personal sites. Use your personal email as the primary identification rather than your work email. Consult your employer if in doubt.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing issued Professional Boundaries: A nurse’s guide to the importance of professional boundaries. In it, nurses are advised to avoid professional situations in which the nurse also has a personal or business relationship. Guidelines for nurses also include the employer’s policy. When designing a policy, the employer should define “social media” and acceptable use in organization-sponsored social media sites. Policy should link related policies such as code of conduct. The employer should issue a monitoring statement as well as the disciplinary action plan.
Tips for using technology
For the health care consumer:
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