About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

13 comments on “Facebook and Hospitals … Do we endeavor to Engage, Educate, Manage or Forbid

  • Here is the most pertinent question: What is a hospital to do about social media? Because it is a business, predicated on the care and well-being of patients, a hospital is by definition almost forced to ban/censor social media, unless or until such time as those venues of communication can be filtered reasonably. We all can filter our emails nowadays, to the point where I never have to read the subject line of any email that asks whether I’d like some part to be enlarged or if I want to obtain some drugs to be able to please my wife all night and into the next day. But a hospital can’t take the chance that their employees, or affiliates, will access the open lines of communication and do something inane that will harm patients and put the entire system at legal risk. I know what my hospital’s attorneys would do – and they have – they ban social media. While I find it frustrating, I support their decision. I understand that not everyone is as responsible with these types of communication as we would like them to be. To say the least.

  • Paul. I can’t see that a hospital could ‘filter’ all messages sent by social media. Do they filter the emails you send now? I wouldn’t think so. People would be very angry about that.I guess the question is does social media make people behave differently? Does it exaggerate natural tendencies?I’ve just ordered this book and am looking forward to learning more: Personal Connections in the Digital Age (Digital Media and Societyhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0745643329/ref=oss_product

  • This demonstrates a complete lack of professionalism and disregard to the their chosen field. We have all made mistakes that we regret later. From an CMIO and hospital administrator side I don’t think social media access should be banned. Presently I feel the benefits outweigh the risks as we have become a society of knowledge transfer. Perhaps the issues of decorum and appropriate use of social media should be addressed in the initial orientation and yearly mandatories that are required of these employees.

  • From the prospective of someone who is both passionate about social media and responsible for it’s use in a large health system, I was disheartened by the story about these nurses and their poor judgement. But thats just it – it is about them and their poor judgement, to the platform or the technology. If anything, the social tools provided a way to catch these folks who arguably have no business in patient care at all. The policy for the use of social media in an healthcare setting remains simple, in my mind: obey the organization’s code of conduct and privacy rules. I often call it the t-shirt rule. If I want to go out and dance on the bar at the local pub, that is fine. If I do it wearing my hospital’s t-shirt, I should be prepared for the ramifications that come with representing the hospital in a manor that is inconsistent with the organization’s expectations. I understand those who draw the connect back to facebook and access to it. However, I would suggest that is misguided frustration. As has been pointed out, in a mobile world, most folks have several means to connect with these networks regardless of what is allowable on a corporate network. In the end, I think you said it very well in the post: “Hospital’s need to embrace social media, develop a comprehensive social media engagement policy, educate their staff, set acceptable parameters…” great post Dr. Luks, well said!

  • Thx @nickdawson well wishes sent from NJ shore :-). If there ever were a set of institutional guidelines that needed to remain fluid, dynamic and frequently revisited… This topic is it.

  • After this last case, I googled the subject of hospital workers fired for posting inappropriate material on Facebook, and made a surprising discovery – about 90% of the 7 or 8 incidents I found came from unionized hospitals. Correlation does not causality make, but it makes one wonder if there is something different about unionized hospitals, or perhaps the relationship between management and employees, that somehow encourages this behavior.

  • Howard – I do think that there’s a segment of the healthcare employee market that doesn’t really understand the boundaries we have obey. I think it’s the responsibility of hospitals to educate through basic campaigns. It would protect hospitals and, most importantly, patients.

  • @Doctor_V Agree completely Bryan… Hospital’s need to embrace social media, develop a comprehensive social media engagement policy, educate their staff, set acceptable parameters, track or monitor usage, remain vigilant and continue with the education process in perpetuity as social media is fluid and evolving and changing everyday.

  • These staff members were not good employees.The nurses and medical staff who chose to publish photos of a seriously injured patient not only show extremely poor judgment in use of social media but display a value and ethic that runs against everything I know as a patient care provider. Patient care is priority one, attending to their safety, comfort and intervening to save lives is what the essence of emergency room care is all about. These staff members show serious disregard for their medical duties. The difference between mistakes made by inappropriate emails vs posting patient personal protected health information on a platform that is accessible by millions of users worldwide (Facebook has 500 million active users) is serious and something regulators will be addressing. The ACLU has also begun to address them as well. We couldn’t agree with you more here at MyHealthCommunity on your recommendation to develop a comprehensive social media engagement policy, educate their staff, set acceptable parameters, track or monitor usage, remain vigilant. We would also recommend that healthcare organizations develop a social media strategic plan matching tools and platforms to function, purpose, and audience. Medical care is different. It is not like business. We don’t choose to have cancer or a heart condition. But when health conditions strike we can be penalized in job options, insurance both medical and life, and socially discriminated against ( abortions, HIV,etc) When patients want to find out more information then a hospital should consider having a private online community where questions can be addressed while maintaining patient privacy. Hospitals must be vigilant in educating staff and their community of online media users on how to tell their medical stories without revealing PHI. If you would like to read further we have written two papers and have short presentations on these topics. Visit our website at http://www.myhealthcommunity.net/?page=resources or you can find us on Slideshare at myhealthcomm.

  • These staff members were not good employees.The nurses and medical staff who chose to publish photos of a seriously injured patient not only show extremely poor judgment in use of social media but display a value and ethic that runs against everything I know as a patient care provider. Patient care is priority one, attending to their safety, comfort and intervening to save lives is what the essence of emergency room care is all about. These staff members show serious disregard for their medical duties. The difference between mistakes made by inappropriate emails vs posting patient personal protected health information on a platform that is accessible by millions of users worldwide (Facebook has 500 million active users) is serious and something regulators will be addressing. The ACLU has also begun to address them as well. We couldn’t agree with you more here at MyHealthCommunity on your recommendation to develop a comprehensive social media engagement policy, educate their staff, set acceptable parameters, track or monitor usage, remain vigilant. We would also recommend that healthcare organizations develop a social media strategic plan matching tools and platforms to function, purpose, and audience. Medical care is different. It is not like business. We don’t choose to have cancer or a heart condition. But when health conditions strike we can be penalized in job options, insurance both medical and life, and socially discriminated against ( abortions, HIV,etc) When patients want to find out more information then a hospital should consider having a private online community where questions can be addressed while maintaining patient privacy. Hospitals must be vigilant in educating staff and their community of online media users on how to tell their medical stories without revealing PHI. If you would like to read further we have written two papers and have short presentations on these topics. Visit our website at http://www.myhealthcommunity.net/?page=resources or you can find us on Slideshare at myhealthcomm.

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