Social Media Communication Between Nurses and Patients

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If you have questions about a social media or patient communication issue, or have been contacted by the nursing board, call to schedule a free legal consultation with a nurses attorney, (512) 829-5619.

Social media is a part of the fabric of society today, so much so that we often take “sharing” for granted, as accepted and commonplace. But what you can do on social media with your friends, family, and colleagues doesn’t extend to what you’re permitted to do with patients (current patients or former patients).

As a nurse, you’re required to maintain professional boundaries between yourself and patients, both while they’re in your care and after they’re discharged.

Professional Boundaries For Nurses
Professional boundary rules for nurses are put in place and enforced by the Texas Board of Nursing (BON), and it falls on you to ensure compliance with them. With current and former patients, the board presumes that you’re in a position of power and that the patient is in a vulnerable position. Because of this, you need to keep your relationship with patients strictly professional. Over-involvement with patients – including social media communication – may lead to a violation of boundaries and potentially put your nursing license at risk.

Social Media And Professional Boundary Violations
The use of social media, in general, can blur the lines between a nurse’s personal life and professional life, potentially leading to discipline by the BON or termination of employment. Unlike people who are in other professions, you don’t have the luxury of claiming that your social media accounts are “personal.” As a nurse, your actions (including social media behavior) can be judged 24/7.

Social Media Communication Between Nurses And Patients
Social media communication between a nurse and a patient may include:

  • friend requests (making a friend request or accepting a friend request)
  • posting comments on a patient’s social media accounts
  • allowing a patient to comment on your social media posts
  • direct messages (DMs) through social media accounts 

Texas Nursing Board Guidelines For Social Media
The nursing board in Texas has put out guidelines for social media that require nurses to:

  • maintain patient privacy and confidentiality at all times (don’t ever post anything that could identify a patient – no matter how you’ve configured the privacy settings on your social media account)
  • keep professional boundaries (don’t ever refer to patients in a negative or disparaging way, even anonymously)
  • don’t make threatening, harassing, profane, sexually explicit, racially derogatory, homophobic, or other offensive comments on your social media accounts or other people’s accounts
  • follow your employer’s policies regarding the use of electronic devices in the workplace (computers, phones, and cameras)

Nurses Attorney For Professional Boundary Violations
If you’ve been contacted by the board of nursing about an allegation filed against you, or you have questions or concerns about your social media activity or contacts with patients, please call our law office. We can assist with all aspects of the disciplinary process for nurses in Texas, including the investigation, settlement, administrative hearings, and more.

For more information about social media communication between nurses and patients, or to schedule a free consultation with a nurses attorney, please call (512) 829-5619.

Please note: Kevin Keaney earned his BSN from the University of Texas at Austin and worked as a nurse for four years before becoming an attorney. A member of the American Association of Nurse Attorneys (TAANA), Kevin now has more than 30 years experience as an attorney. Our law office is in the Austin area, and we represent nurses from all across Texas, including: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Amarillo, and Lubbock.