Tweeting from the OR: How hospitals are dealing with social media

Jonathan Berr
social media, Facebook, Twitter, hospitals, nurses, doctors, social media policy
social media, Facebook, Twitter, hospitals, nurses, doctors, social media policy

About once every two weeks a worker at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston gets flagged by a team of about a dozen monitors for violating the hospital's strict policy on social media. The policy prohibits employees from doing such things as griping about having to go to work on their Facebook page.Even people who post under anonymous handles are usually identified and given a copy of the policy.

"Usually, it stops after that," says Jennifer Texada, who manages MD Anderson's social media efforts. The hospital has yet to go so far as to block social networking sites because, says Texada, it trusts its employees to follow the rules. Thus far, she says, the infractions have been minor.

But at other hospitals, the infractions have not been so minor. The Los Angeles Times recently published a story about workers at St. Mary Medical Center who snapped pictures of a mortally wounded man whose throat was "slashed so savagely he was almost decapitated" and posted them on Facebook. Four staff members were fired and four were disciplined, a St. Mary spokeswoman told the paper. Last year, a New York City Emergency Medical Technician was fired for posting pictures of a murder victim on Facebook.