10 Must Read TikTok Tips For Nurses - Etiquette, HIPAA

4 Min Read Published August 16, 2022
10 Must Read TikTok Tips For Nurses - Etiquette, HIPAA

TikTok is becoming more popular in today’s world. Creating short videos about trends, dance challenges, opinions, and easy-to-use creative options has claimed its popularity among personal and professional users. The platform’s algorithm learns what the user wants to see and feeds the watcher that content. As a nurse, you may watch “NurseTok” to follow the latest trends and even post your own content to the community.  
A quick search can show the backlash that some nurses get for portraying the field in a negative light on social media. Video networks like TikTok can be great for connecting with other nurses and sharing professional content. Still, it’s crucial to follow HIPAA privacy laws when posting. As innocent as it may seem to post videos on TikTok, there are several ways that HIPAA can be compromised. There are safe ways to use TikTok and comply with privacy laws as a nurse.  
Registered nurses have a professional responsibility to provide competent, safe care for their patients. This includes abiding by a standard of conduct set for nurses. In light of the popularity of the social media app TikTok, nurses must be aware of the do’s and don’ts of remaining professional on this platform.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA is an acronym thrown around in healthcare; it stands for The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. HIPAA is a law that protects privacy. Federal law requires standards for protecting patients’ health information. It prevents healthcare entities from releasing information without the consent of the patients.  
When a patient’s medical information is released, it can have severe consequences for them. The HIPAA law protects the privacy and safety of this crucial data to ensure that patients are not penalized or embarrassed because their records were compromised without permission from the healthcare facility involved.

What Happens When You Break HIPAA  

A breach in HIPAA is defined as a compromise of the security or privacy of the patient’s protected health information. This includes an accidental capture of information even while taking a selfie. A willful violation can lead to a fine of up to $50,000 and restitution paid to the victim. Even if the person was unaware of the information being breached. Negligence in violation can lead to one year in prison as well. 
Health care providers need to be aware that there are severe consequences for a HIPAA breach. This means you should always take precautions when recording videos at work. Whether jumping on the new dancing trend, acting goofy, or posting a rant, it is imperative to watch for any patient identifiers, the patient in the background.  

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of TikTok Posts

As nurses, we constantly look for new ways to stay connected and engaged with our colleagues and followers. While there are many great things about TikTok, there are also some do’s and don’ts to remember when creating posts. 
This reel is an excellent example of a nursing TikTok video from nurse.org that shows professional etiquette while having fun! 
Here are the do’s and don’ts of TikTok posts for nurses:

1. Do maintain patient privacy. 

It may be tempting to rant about a bad day or a troublesome patient or even an annoying family member, but before you do, remember that certain situations and places can be traced back to the patient.  

2. Don’t video patients or their information. 

This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are cases of privacy laws being breached during videos or photos taken in a healthcare setting. Make sure there is no patient information in the background of your posts. 

3. Do get patient’s consent if they are in the video.

Some TikTok videos include the patient. If this happens, get the patient’s consent and thoroughly explain what is happening. Also, make sure this doesn’t go against hospital policy. The patient might be okay being filmed for the TikTok video but the healthcare system probably won’t be.  

4. Don’t show the patient’s wristband. 

Patients’ wristbands can have their name, date of birth, and location. This is a security risk and can lead to identity theft or worse.  

5. Do check the background for identifiers.

While videoing, make sure that there is no patient information posted in the background of your videos, such as patient assignment boards or computer information. 

6. Don’t video near patient charts or charting systems.

Even though the video may not clearly show patient information, a skilled person can pause, edit, and zoom in on the information they see in the video. 

7. Don’t criticize your facility or show their branding negatively. 

Sometimes we find ourselves really upset with our employer and work situations. It is good and healthy to vent, but remember what you say on a public platform may have consequences.  

 8. Do promote nursing in a positive connotation. 

Promoting nursing in a positive light will help more nurses want to join our field and help better the culture that we work in. 

9. Don’t slander another healthcare professional or workplace.

It may be easy to avoid another facility you think is lesser than yours or a competing company, but remember, nursing is strong in networking. Someone from that company may see the video and remember your face or name later. 

10. Do share educational information to help others. 

Nursing students and the general public looking for education on a subject may look to nursing pages as a trusted profession.  

With TikTok becoming widely popular amongst the nursing community, it is essential to remember to be professional. While there are many great things about nurses using this app to communicate and educate, it is important to be aware of the dangers of breaking HIPAA. 
There are do’s and don’ts for professionals regarding social media, and nurses should be careful about what they post online. Do not post any patient identifiers. Make sure your posts reflect positively on nursing as a profession and be aware of the potential consequences of violating HIPAA regulations. 

Breann Kakacek
Breann Kakacek
Nurse.org Contributor

Breann Kakacek BSN RN has been a registered nurse for more than 8 years and a CNA for 2 years while going through the nursing program. Most of her nursing years include working in the medical ICU and Cardiovascular ICU and moonlighting in the OR as a circulating nurse. She has always had a passion for writing and enjoys using her nursing knowledge to create amazing online content.

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