New guidelines for nurses on social media
11 January 2013
The Nursing Council of New Zealand has developed a new guidance document to help nurses think about their use of social media and electronic communications in relation to standards of professional conduct.
The new guidelines explore the benefits and pitfalls of social media providing detailed guidance to expand on the principles and standards of behaviour outlined in the new Code of Conduct for nurses, published in the middle of 2012. Of the eight principles in the Code, four directly intersect with the use of social media and electronic communications.
Clear direction is given to nurses. For example in relation to protecting patient privacy, nurses are reminded to be aware that patient emails, answer phone messages and texts may be accessed by others. In relation to maintaining professional boundaries, nurses are advised that boundaries could be breached when health consumers are made ‘friends’ on personal social media websites.
The new guidance document is the second in a series of guidelines expanding on the Code and follows the release of guidelines on professional boundaries.
What has become clear is that even when social media is used with good intentions, patient confidentiality and privacy can be inadvertently breached. Patients don’t have to be named to be identifiable and even with the strictest privacy settings, information can forwarded and shared in potentially ever-expanding networks. Similarly deleted content may remain accessible.