Social media has invaded nearly every corner of life, and it has dramatically changed how people relate to each other. It’s not at all unusual for medical professionals of all kinds – emergency room doctors, nurses, dermatologists and more – to have their own YouTube channel or TikTok feed.
Unfortunately, social media also provides a lot of opportunities for medical professionals to get themselves into serious professional (and personal) trouble. From doctors who do a dance routine during a patient’s surgical procedure to nurses who posted videos mocking their least-favorite maternity patients, medical professionals have found out that neither their employers nor the licensing boards have much of a sense of humor.
If you’re a medical professional It would be wise to take a few precautions out there on your own social media accounts:
1. Separate your personal and professional accounts
You keep your personal and professional lives separate, right? So why shouldn’t your social media pages reflect that. Your personal account should be locked down to only your family members and close friends, so that you can maintain some degree of privacy. Your professional account can be used to create a brand identity with curated posts.
2. Be very conscious of potential HIPAA violations
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is very big on protecting patient privacy. You already know that it’s not allowed to post your patient’s name or other identifying information on your social media, but what if you inadvertently reveal enough details about their frustrating case (or your frustrations with them) that they can be identified by someone that knows them?
3. Always keep the optics in mind
Before you post something on social media, always ask yourself, “How would I explain this to the licensing board if they saw it?” or “Would this get me into ethical trouble if it were happening in the real world, and not online?” Keep your code of ethics in mind at all times, even in chats and videos.
Mistakes on social media continue to cost medical professionals. Some have found their license to practice in danger or had trouble renewing them. If you find yourself in that position, find out more about what you can to fight for your career.