Thirteen years after the first Facebook post and eleven years after the first tweet, social media use by healthcare professionals continues to be a controversial topic.
In October last year, nurse Carolyn Strom was found guilty of “professional misconduct” by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association (SRNA) for a post she made on Facebook. On February 25th 2015 Strom posted the following comment following her grandfather’s death at St Joseph’s Health Facility (Strom did not work at that facility):
“My grandfather spent a week in palliative care before he died and after hearing about his and my family’s experience there, it is evident that not everyone is ‘up to speed’ on how to approach end of life care or how to help maintain an aging senior’s dignity.”
“I challenge the people involved in decision making with that facility to please get all your staff a refresher on this topic and more. Don’t get me wrong, ‘some’ people have provided excellent care so I thank you so very much for your efforts, but to those who made Grandpa’s last years less than desirable, please do better next time.”
This case and a recent Canadian Medical Association session on the lack of civility between physicians on social media served as the kernel of a recent #hcldr chat led by guest hosts Pat Rich @pat_health and Trish Paton @TrishPaton.
A clear sentiment from the #hcldr community was that healthcare regulatory bodies and professional associations were woefully behind-the-times when it came to social media policy.
T4 One thing that is difficult w/regulations is that the social media landscape changes so quickly but regulations don’t. #hcldr
— Katy Schuler (@k_schuler) September 13, 2017
— Patient Critical (@PatientCritical) September 13, 2017
Matthew Katz MD had a keen observation and suggestion for regulators:
— Matthew Katz, MD (@subatomicdoc) September 13, 2017
Fear of fines and sanctions from regulatory bodies/associations coupled with the very real danger of being ostracized by peers, have effectively made social media into a “no-go” zone for healthcare professionals.
T1: I’ve heard it here, actually, the fear of speaking out on social from doctors and nurses. #hcldr
— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) September 13, 2017
T1: Not sure I’d say “muzzled,” but I think there is certainly a fear of misstep that may prevent some from using social media. #HCLDR
— Monica Stout (@MI_turnaround) September 13, 2017
— Dan Dunlop (@dandunlop) September 13, 2017
Robert Mahoney @mahoneyr had a very interesting take on social media posts from healthcare professionals.
My oath is to not intentionally do harm. Very different from an expectation that harm will not result from my actions. #hcldr
— Robert Mahoney (@mahoneyr) September 13, 2017
Thankfully there are some progressive healthcare organizations out there who actually encourage their healthcare professionals to get engaged online. To help their staff navigate social media, they have created clear policies and guidelines so that they do not run afoul of regulatory bodies. The Mayo Clinic shared theirs with the community:
— Community Engagement (@mayoclinic_cenr) September 13, 2017
What are your thoughts about healthcare professionals, governing associations and social media?