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Facebook Jeopardizes Patient Safety

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Facebook Jeopardizes Patient Safety

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A story in USA Today (June 8, 2011) described how Alaska Airlines provided Ipads without WiFi capability to pilots so they don’t have to carry heavy manuals. “It’s against company policy for the pilots to connect to the internet”, said Pilot Randy Kleiger. “And besides, we’re professionals.”

How can the social media site harm patients? Bear with me.

First, consider the popularity of this site. Facebook was started by college students who wanted dates. It has grown to close to 700 million users. In one hour, 10,417,000 people log onto Facebook.

Second, many people who use Facebook develop an addiction to it. They can become so caught up in checking what their friends and family are doing that they cross the line into addictive behavior. They check Facebook before they get out of bed. When nursing Facebook addicts start checking their feed during working hours, patients can be harmed. Call lights are unanswered; patients are not monitored. I know of 3 nurses who were fired when a patient’s call light went unanswered. He died; the nurses were on Facebook instead of attending to his needs.

As a result of Facebook addiction, some hospitals have blocked staff from being able to access Facebook. Nurses are professionals, and yet many have succumbed to the temptation to visit Facebook during working hours.

Take home message: A delay in answered call lights, or a failure to monitor, may be related to the distraction of Facebook. I can’t think of any legitimate reason for nurses to access Facebook during working hours. Can you? Add a comment.

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