Social media is a general term used to refer to online platforms that allow users to interact virtually. They include well-known sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social bookmarking sites while not limited to Microblogs and podcasting. The use of social media is full spread with statistics showing that Twitter has over 555 billion registered users and 750 million monthly users on Facebook, (Swider, 2011). Managing health ethics over the social media is increasingly becoming an area of concern due to the rising numbers of caregivers and their patients searching online for medical information and support. Moreover, statistically, health care information is one of the most popular online activities after internet search and email, (Swider, 2011).
It has resulted in medical ethical issues with social media, with most of the patient's information ending up subjected to public scrutiny. Moreover, use of electronic health records is becoming normative in various health care systems in different countries, making a patients information readily accessible for use in social media. The following are some of the ethical issues as outlined by administrative and professional codes for nurses, (Lachman, 2008).
Breach of confidentiality against patients
A patient has a right to disclose their health information, but this does not grant the nurse any right to share such information with anyone. However, in most cases, nurse opt to change the patient name, condition or room number without knowing this still violating the patient's confidentiality right. Platforms such as CrowdMed, clearly state that any information provided will be published as it is to the public and is the responsibility of the patient to remove any identifier. But ethical issues still comes when parents decide to post health information of their children online sometimes with pictures for the public audience.
This requires the nurses to recognize and establish limits when on professional duty. With the bid to prevent blurring nurse-patient boundary federation of state medical board discourages physicians and other health practitioners from interacting with their patients on personal social websites, (Lachman, 2008). This was influenced by increasing number of health care workers joining online communities to get updates on medical developments or consult colleagues regarding patient cases or for networking. This Well as much as social media can promote better patient care, it is advisable for the nurses who are using social platforms to follow up on their patients to use privacy settings to guide their personal information or differentiate between their personal and professional accounts (Swider, 2011).
Communicating against employers
Workers are free to discuss work related issues bit in the office or social media according to national labor relations board, thus making it illegal for companies to practice strict policies such as placing the ban on disrespectful posts or comments. Moreover, these policies should not intimidate workers from communicating among themselves with the aim of improving working conditions and wages. The result of such freedom is a thin line that requires professional responsibility that if not taken into consideration can lead to incitement and bad team environment at the workplace.
Lateral violence against colleagues
According to (Lachman, 2008), Cyber-bulling through the posting of negative information about members in the profession, affects the team environment. Nurses are required to carry themselves with a lot of dignity and respect toward their fellow as part of codes of ethics in their profession. This also promotes teamwork and co-ordination at the workplace. Furthermore, every nurse has an obligation to report any professional concern through a proper channel as oppose to forwarding such information to public scrutiny through online communities.