BCCNM receives complaints about nurses using social media and technology in ways that compromise boundaries, privacy and confidentiality, professional integrity, and public trust. The issue is not social media itself, but how it's used.
Depending on the nature and circumstances of the complaint, registration suspension or other significant outcomes may be appropriate. In considering appropriate outcomes, BCCNM's Inquiry Committee balances professionals' right to self-expression with the need to ensure public safety and confidence in the profession.
These hypothetical scenarios show the types of complaints the college receives about nurses using social media inappropriately.
Ulla works in a pediatric setting. On four occasions over a period of several months, she posts photos and information about her clients on her personal Instagram and Facebook accounts. She never posts faces or names, but staff, other clients, and families know who she is posting about in the hospital. A complaint from a parent leads to a workplace investigation.
The investigation finds that Ulla also follows the Instagram accounts of and maintains Facebook friendships with parents of current and former clients. It also finds that during this time, there was a similar incident involving another staff member, which led to the employer having staff review workplace policies on privacy and social media use.
However, Ulla later posted another picture. Ulla's actions were reported by her manager to the college.
Investigative findings led the Inquiry Committee to determine that Ulla's actions related to privacy and boundaries breached standards and she showed limited accountability and responsibility. She was reprimanded and, through a consent agreement with the college, required to complete remedial action including coursework and a consultation with a BCCNM Regulatory Practice Consultant.
Ulla is required to provide a copy of the consent agreement outlining the findings of the Inquiry Committee and the required remedial actions to her current workplace, including her direct supervisor, and to any prospective employers for the term of the agreement.
Dustin works in a primary care centre and cares for a client who requires daily infusions. They talk over the week—the client shares some details about her personal life, and Dustin shares some personal information about himself.
The next week, on Dustin's day off, he logs into his personal Facebook account and searches for her profile. When he finds it, he “waves" hello to her. The next day, he sends her a friend request.
After the client's treatment is finished, she reports Dustin to the centre manager alleging that Dustin tried to have a personal relationship with her. She said that Dustin asked for and shared personal information, located her Facebook profile, and tried to contact her by “waving" and sending a friend request. The manger reports Dustin's actions to the college.
After an investigation, the Inquiry Committee determined that Dustin's conduct—sharing personal information and initiating personal contact with a client—breached standards. He was reprimanded and entered into a consent agreement with the college, requiring him to complete remedial action including coursework and a consultation with a BCCNM Regulatory Practice Consultant.
Dustin is required to provide a copy of the consent agreement outlining the Inquiry Committee findings and required remedial actions to his current workplace, including his direct supervisor, and to any prospective employers for the term of the agreement.
Harj follows the public Instagram account of a nursing colleague, Kim. At the end of shift, Kim makes a post about her shift that includes details about a client she cared for. The post identifies the client's gender and includes a derogatory comment about their physical appearance.
Harj is sure that other colleagues would be able to identify the client, and that members of the public might also be able to because Kim lives in a small town. Harj believes the post is a breach of privacy, disrespectful to the client, and unprofessional. Harj shares her concerns directly with Kim. Kim agrees that she crossed the line. Kim deletes the post and promises to be more thoughtful in the future.
Two weeks later, Harj notices a new Instagram post by Kim, with detailed, disrespectful comments about two other clients and their lifestyle choices. Concerned that Kim's posts could have a direct and negative impact on clients and the public's trust in nursing, Harj knows she has a responsibility to act. She takes screenshots of the posts and emails them to her manager, outlining her concerns and her previous conversation with Kim. After a workplace investigation, the manager reports Kim's conduct to the college.
After an investigation, the Inquiry Committee determined that Kim's conduct—posting disrespectful, derogatory, and unprofessional comments on social media about clients in her care—breached standards. While the clients' names were not included in Kim's posts, the Inquiry Committee determined others would be able to identify who she was referring to.
Kim entered into a consent agreement, requiring her to serve a four-week suspension; complete remedial education in the areas of client privacy, professional boundaries, professionalism, and ethics in nursing practice; and complete a consultation with a BCCNM Regulatory Practice Consultant.
Kim is required to provide a copy of the consent agreement outlining the Inquiry Committee findings and required remedial actions to her current employer, including her direct supervisor, and to any prospective employers for the term of the agreement.