“Oh no! This cannot be, where isit? I know I took it home with me last night”, throws clothes and papers aroundthe room.
“I couldn’t have, oh my, did I?” HIPPA law stands for healthinsurance portability and accountability act and was passed in 1996, it is afederal law to protect each individual when it relates to their health and thecare that is given to them. The use of social media and HIPPA being violatedhas increased in recent years due to the use of smartphones in the workplace.Violating HIPPA is professionally, ethically and legally wrong, and could leadto fines and imprisonment. While using technology has improved the way we carefor patient’s it has also compromised some of their privacy, even when notintended too.
Healthcare workers under the age offorty have admitted to spending at least an hour a day on social media whileworking. Among these healthcare workers, forty percent of them were unaware oftheir hospitals’ social media policy in the workplace. Which in the end couldlead to jeopardizing the privacy of each patient they come in contact with. Withinthe guidelines of HIPPA it allows patients to have more control over theirhealth records, it is ensuring that healthcare providers protect the privacy ofthe patient and penalizes anyone who may jeopardize the patient’s privacy.
Inorder to share information regarding a patient, it must be in writing in asigned document and with whom you are sharing it with. Under no circumstance isthe information allowed to be shared with anyone or anything else. Unless itputs the public in danger, such as an outbreak, for example, a measlesoutbreak.
Even then, the privacy of the patient is maintained. In 2017, Tampa General Hospital wassued and fined to pay $10,000 to 1,179 patients who accused the hospital ofunauthorized access to the computer systems and putting them at risk. It wasunknown how many people within the hospital were involved but they “engaged inunauthorized or improper access to such PHI and PII” (Hospital Settles InsiderBreach Lawsuit, 2017, p.8). This breach also put the hospital in violation ofthe Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practice Act.
Like most states, if ahospital has a breach of security they are also in violation of this law andhave to pay the fines and fees associated with it. In addition, to the $10,000that was paid to each plaintiff, the hospital was also ordered to pay up to$7,500 in legal fees for each person. This lawsuit cost the hospital a littleover 20 million dollars. A breach that could’ve been prevented with the propertraining, and retraining of its employees. Hospitals need to inform allpatients of what information will be shared if any. All the forms that patientssign when being admitted to the hospital for care need to be fully understoodby the patient, and if English isn’t their first language than it needs to betranslated or given in the language they can understand. This is to protectboth the hospital and the patient. While social media has itsadvantages for healthcare it also has disadvantages.
Some advantages of socialmedia and healthcare are: patients have a better understanding of where and whothey will be working with. For example, according to Burke and Goldstein(2010), at least 250 hospitals had a YouTube channel, more than 300 Facebookpages, and more than 400 Twitter accounts. You are able to connect with yourprovides without even really knowing them. We are in the age of social mediaand connecting like via on the internet may make many patients feel more atease because they can access social media on their own without the pressure ofbeing in the presence of the doctor or having an appointment and feelingrushed. Social media allows providers to give “the best care and information”(Burke and Goldstein, 2010, p.30). in addition to connecting patients withproviders, social media helps hospitals connect new employees, allows for more revenuebecause the patient can connect with the hospital via social media; sometimesbefore even getting there.
It has also been proven to increase patientsatisfaction rating since we have crossed into the social media generation. You see a friend request onFacebook and don’t think twice about denying it. You’ve taken care of thispatient for weeks, and have lots in common. Your Facebook is your life though,and through a little wandering your patient can tell you everything about yourlife. Suddenly you are no longer able to care for the patient you’ve taken careof for week because suddenly the patients question your stress level. These aresome of the disadvantages of social media.
Everything is available online andone nurse was asked to no longer care for a patient after they become friendsaccording to Slobogian, Giles, and Rant (2017). The internet is a never-endinghole of information, and information sometimes that you wouldn’t expect tojeopardize your future. This nurse felt so connected to her patient, that addedthem on Facebook, it soon backfired on her though. Some more disadvantages ofsocial media and how they affect health care are, many hospitals have socialmedia such as Facebook or Twitter but do not interact with their patients onsocial media which in return negatively affects their patient satisfactionscores. One study conducted by Dr. Jason P. Richter feels that hospitals thatdon’t engage are losing an opportunity to help them grow, increase patienthappiness, and improve the quality of care to the patients.
While using socialmedia to interact with patients can potentially cause violations of privacyacts there are many ways to maintain the patents privacy like having directmessages among the patient or referring them visit the provider. The Gossip Gazette broke the story for a celebrity being admitted tothe hospital that the nurse worked at. The information was leaked because thenurse carelessly left her phone at the hospital and then they fell into thewrong hands. The photos of her caring for the celebrity were sold. The nursesearched high and low for her phone, it was nowhere to be found. Knowing thatthe pictures could eventually be linked back to her if her phone was returnedor found in the hospital the nurse felt she should turn herself in. She decidedto email her union representative and schedule a meeting with her nursemanager.
The nurse knew what she did was wrong, and will cost the hospitalsthousands of dollars. After her meeting, she was fined and then terminated fromthe hospital she was employed with for violating HIPPA. The HIPPA law was implemented in 1996 toprotect patients no matter who they were. The nurse in this scenario breachedthe patient’s privacy because they were a celebrity. The nurse also behaved inan unethical manner. Ethics is defined as “a process of systematicallyexamining varying viewpoints related to moral questions of right and wrong”(McGonigle, p.68). Ethically no way good came from the nurse making thisdecision other than benefitting her need to gossip with friends.
She took anoath to protect her patients and violated that oath. She did not practicenonmaleficence by protecting her patient from harm, harm in this case thatcould be considered emotional harm and possibly physical harm because photoswere taken of the celebrity without consent. She also violated the justiceportion of the nurse ethical principles. She did this by not providing equalcare for her patients that night. She didn’t take pictures of her otherpatients and send them to a friend.
In addition to nonmalefience and justice,she also violated privacy and confidentiality. Each person is entitled to theirprivacy, which she did not give this patient. The celebrity didn’t givepermission for her to share their medical condition and invaded the celebrity’sprivacy.
The celebrity’s confidentiality was also breached, they did not signany forms stating it was okay to share this information. As a nurse, I will ensure to knowall my state and federal laws regarding privacy, I will also make sure to alsoprotect my patient’s privacy no matter who they are. I will know all the laws,and rules associated with the organization I work with to ensure I do not causeany information breaches among the people I am caring for. Lastly, I will limitand or try to not use social media in the workplace. Using social media in theworkplace has proved to backfire when it is not liked to patient satisfactionor connecting providers and patients.