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Crossing the line on Facebook

Case study about social media & unprofessional behaviour

Harj and several workplace colleagues use a Facebook group to plan social events and share news about friends and family. Recently a colleague, Stephanie, posted several comments about clients.


Some of the comments are disrespectful, others are detailed. Harj believes they are unprofessional and make nurses look bad.

What should Harj do?

Harj thinks the best way to resolve the situation is to speak directly with Stephanie. She takes time focus her thoughts, and consider the best approach. When she finds a private moment, she shares her concerns with Stephanie. Stephanie agrees that she crossed the line and promises to be more thoughtful in the future.

A few weeks later, Harj is upset to see that Stephanie has posted several new, derogatory comments about a client. She's concerned that Stephanie’s comments could have a direct and negative impact on clients and the trust others have in the team.

What do the standards say?

Under the CRNBC Professional Standards, nurses are responsible for taking action to promote the provision of safe, appropriate and ethical care to clients. They are also responsible for reporting incompetent or impaired practice or unethical conduct to the appropriate person or body. 

Harj has already taken action by talking with Stephanie. As difficult as it will be, she knows the next step is sharing her concerns with her manager.

Taking action can be challenging

Harj copies and prints the most recent posts, including dates and times. She meets with her manager and shares her concerns, including her previous conversation with Stephanie. She also tells Stephanie that she has met with their manager.

Addressing concerns

Stephanie is upset and worried that others will find out. Harj tells her she will not discuss the situation with anyone else and, unless Stephanie continues to act unprofessionally, the issue is now between Stephanie and their manager. Harj is comfortable with her decision, and puts the incident behind her.

Postscript: Stephanie resolved the concerns with her manager. She deleted her posts from the group’s wall and closed her Facebook account. The manager sent out a memo reminding staff that their obligations to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of clients applies on social media, as well as in all other areas.

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