Discussion 1 How can ethical social media use be beneficial to health care professionals and their patients? More and more communication and education is being delivered through social media.  What do you think are the difficulties and downfalls with doing this? Explain. Discussion 2 Describe a clinical situation in which a registered nurse may encounter moral distress.  Answer the AACN’s found on page 84 in your Butts and Rich text to further explain the situation, and the possible mitigation strategies.

Ethical social media use in healthcare can be highly beneficial to both healthcare professionals and their patients. Social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, provide a unique opportunity for healthcare professionals to share knowledge, engage in professional discussions, and collaborate with their peers. This sharing of information can contribute to the overall improvement of patient care by promoting evidence-based practices and disseminating the latest research findings.

One of the key advantages of social media use in healthcare is the ability to reach a large audience. Healthcare professionals can participate in online communities and forums, allowing them to connect with individuals from different geographical areas and backgrounds. This diversity of perspectives can foster a rich exchange of ideas and experiences, leading to innovative approaches to patient care.

Furthermore, social media platforms can serve as powerful educational tools for both healthcare professionals and patients. Healthcare organizations, medical schools, and professional associations can utilize social media to provide continuous medical education, disseminate updates on best practices, and promote public health initiatives. Patients, on the other hand, can access reliable health information, connect with support groups, and share their own experiences, empowering them to actively participate in their own care.

However, there are several difficulties and downfalls associated with using social media in healthcare. The first challenge is ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of patient information. Healthcare professionals must adhere to strict ethical guidelines and legal regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), to protect patient privacy. In an era of constant sharing and online connectivity, maintaining patient confidentiality becomes a complex task.

Additionally, the credibility and accuracy of information shared on social media platforms are often questionable. Healthcare professionals must critically evaluate the sources of information and ensure that they are evidence-based and reliable. The lack of peer review and rigorous vetting processes on social media platforms can lead to the dissemination of misinformation, potentially putting patients at risk.

Moreover, the instantaneous and public nature of social media can sometimes lead to unprofessional behavior by healthcare professionals. Inappropriately sharing patient information, engaging in online arguments, or making derogatory comments can have serious consequences for both the individual and the healthcare organization. Maintaining professionalism and ethical behavior in the virtual realm requires constant vigilance and self-regulation.

In a clinical situation, a registered nurse may encounter moral distress when faced with a challenging ethical dilemma that conflicts with their personal and professional values. Moral distress refers to the psychological and emotional discomfort experienced by healthcare professionals when they are unable to act in accordance with their moral beliefs due to various constraints or conflicts.

For example, imagine a registered nurse working in a palliative care unit who is asked to administer a medication that hastens the death of a terminally ill patient against the patient’s wishes. The nurse believes in the principle of autonomy and respects the patient’s right to make decisions about their own care. However, the nurse is torn between following their personal moral code and adhering to the legal and ethical obligations of providing comfort care to the patient.

According to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), moral distress is characterized by six main attributes, which can further explain the aforementioned situation. These attributes include moral doubt, moral burden, moral resilience, moral efficacy, moral integrity, and moral distress. In the given scenario, the nurse experiences moral doubt about the appropriateness of administering the medication, moral burden due to the emotional conflict, and moral distress in being unable to provide care in alignment with their beliefs.

To mitigate moral distress in such situations, several strategies can be employed. The nurse can engage in ethical consultation with colleagues or consult the healthcare organization’s ethics committee. Additionally, fostering open communication and dialogue among healthcare professionals can facilitate shared decision-making and promote ethical deliberation. It is important for healthcare organizations to create a supportive environment that allows for the identification and resolution of ethical dilemmas, ultimately reducing moral distress among healthcare professionals.

In conclusion, ethical social media use can be highly beneficial to healthcare professionals and their patients. However, it is important to be aware of the difficulties and downfalls associated with social media in healthcare, such as privacy concerns, credibility issues, and the need for maintaining professionalism. Furthermore, healthcare professionals may encounter moral distress when faced with challenging ethical dilemmas. Employing strategies such as ethical consultation and fostering open communication can help mitigate moral distress and promote ethical decision-making in clinical practice.