Kansas Health Care Professionals: Know the “Rules” of Social Media

For many people, Facebook and other social media networking sites have become as much a part of their daily routine as walking the dog, checking e-mail, and kissing their spouse goodbye. Some people even find a way to check Facebook while doing other tasks! Regardless of whether you are an occasional user or “regular” of Facebook and other similar sites, you need to use social media wisely. As a health care professional in particular, social media can quickly turn from a friend into an enemy. Each year, health care professionals find themselves facing discipline for mistakes made on Facebook and other social media sites. The following are a few tips to follow so that you can use Facebook without the fear that you are putting your professional license in jeopardy:

  • DO – have a response ready in case a patient asks if you are on a particular social media site. Sometimes patients can mistake the care that you are providing to them for friendship and want to continue that relationship on a social media site. This may be a case where honesty is not the best policy.
  • DO NOT – set your Facebook settings to “public”. Employers and prospective employers frequently comb through social media sites. Photos and other postings on your social media site may paint you in a different light than the dedicated health care professional that you are.
  • DO – visit Facebook or your other social media site’s privacy settings frequently. Facebook and other social media sites are constantly altering website privacy controls. Users who are not vigilant risk sharing information that was previously private with the world.
  • DO NOT – share photos of your workplace or of patients. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects patient information from being improperly shared. Posting a photo or a description of a patient or your workplace may raise eyebrows and come across in the wrong way.
  • DO – filter your posts. One rule of thumb is that if you do not want everyone in the entire world to know the information you are considering posting, then it is probably a good idea not to post it. People who you have allowed to see your information can easily share your posts and photographs with those you have not authorized to see your information. It is best to regard Facebook and other social media sites as public spaces and the information you place there as public and no longer under your control.
  • DO NOT – speak badly of your employer, co-workers or your position on any social media site. Regardless of whether or not you are “friends” with any of your co-workers, it is too easy for that information to land in the wrong hands.
  • DO – find other avenues to vent about your job frustrations. Health care professionals have demanding jobs that often require them to work long hours. Although it may be tempting to communicate your frustrations to your “friends” on social media, it is often better to communicate in person.

If you are a licensee who has received notice of a pending investigation, contact the Sanger Law Office today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free and completely confidential consultation. Before you talk with an investigator or communicate with your applicable licensing board, you need to consult with an experienced Kansas professional license defense attorney. The Sanger Law Office prides itself on providing licensees with exceptional legal services. Trust our team of professionals to protect your license.