No Social Media Healing for Nurses
Good conversation (@cjbryant) over dinner last night had me thinking: Are privacy laws relevant and accurate in today’s healthcare world?
I have had a number of patients pass away recently. Due to their specific illnesses’, these patients had many lengthy stays with our team and the nurses have grown to love these patients over months to years. Needless to say, their deaths were a heavy burden on us.
As a Gen Y woman, I grew up in the days of being constantly connected: AIM (yes, I know you remember AOL chats), Facebook (my first year of college was the year Mark Zuckerburg created “The Facebook” and I happened to go to a University that was allowed to join), not to mention the boom of other communities such as Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, and Quora.
Our lives are online.
Social Media is frequently used in our generation (and others as well) as a tool for healing. When my grandfather passed away, one of my first inclinations was to post a remembrance message and photo on Facebook. Because we shared the same birthday, each year, I change my profile picture to one of him and I. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much to some of you, but to me it means everything. It is a way for me to remember him and show others how much he meant to me.
Bring it back to the hospital: These patients impact us as nurses and the healthcare team on a personal level. And their deaths hit us especially hard. Recently, I held the hand of a tearful patient while she pleaded for us not to give up on her. Then she died. I know thats dramatic, but it happened. For fear of retribution from our employer due to privacy issues, nurses of this generation are forced to bottle up these emotions. Our typical outlet and mechanism of dealing with grief is cut off.
Let me tell you, I don’t plan on posting the personal health information of my patients on Facebook after they die. I’m simply bringing this generational issue to light. This may be a situation that those who draft privacy guidelines may not consider.
The question remains: Is it possible to reconcile current privacy laws with a new social media generation of healthcare workers?