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Interprofessional Staff Update on HIPAA

Protected Health Information (PHI): Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

Prepare a 2-page interprofessional staff update on HIPAA and appropriate social media use in health care.

First select one of the settings below that will become the focus of your interprofessional staff update.

  • Community Health Care:
  • Context: Community health care encompasses a wide range of services provided outside of a traditional hospital setting, often focusing on public health, education, and preventive care. This might include home visits, vaccination drives, and health education seminars. Given the community-based nature of the care, there’s a close relationship between providers and patients.
  • Social Media Concern: Sharing information about community events, patient interactions, or health outcomes can inadvertently disclose private patient details.
  • Hospital Setting:
  • Context: Hospitals are complex environments with various departments catering to different medical needs. From emergency rooms to surgical units, patient information flows continuously. With numerous professionals involved in patient care, the risk of information leakage is high.
  • Social Media Concern: Discussing challenging cases, sharing experiences, or even posting about daily routines can inadvertently reveal patient information, especially if specifics are mentioned.

As a nurse in this setting, you are asked to create the content for a staff update containing a maximum of two content pages that address one or more of these topics:

  • Social media best practices.
  • What not to do: social media.
  • Social media risks to patient information.
  • Steps to take if a breach occurs.

Remember this is a staff educational update about PHI. Consider creating a flyer, pamphlet, or one PowerPoint slide (not an entire presentation).

The task force has asked team members assigned to the topics to include the following content in their updates in addition to content on their selected topics:

  • What is protected health information (PHI)?
  • Be sure to include essential HIPAA information.
  • What are privacy, security, and confidentiality?
  • Define and provide examples of privacy, security, and confidentiality concerns related to the use of technology in health care.
  • Explain the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration to safeguard sensitive electronic health information.
  • What evidence relating to social media usage and PHI do interprofessional team members need to be aware of? For example:
  • What are some examples of nurses being terminated for inappropriate social media use in the United States?
  • What types of sanctions have health care organizations imposed on interdisciplinary team members who have violated social media policies?
  • What have been the financial penalties assessed against health care organizations for inappropriate social media use?
  • What evidence-based strategies have health care organizations employed to prevent or reduce confidentiality, privacy, and security breaches, particularly related to social media usage?



Your staff update is limited to two double-spaced content pages. Be selective about the content you choose to include in your update so you can meet the page length requirement. Include need-to-know information. Omit nice-to-know information.

Many times people do not read staff updates, do not read them carefully, or do not read them to the end. Ensure your staff update piques staff members’ interest, highlights key points, and is easy to read. Avoid overcrowding the update with too much content.

Also, supply a separate reference page that includes two or three peer-reviewed and one or two non-peer-reviewed resources (for a total of 3–5 resources) to support the staff update content.


Additional Requirement:

Written communication: Ensure the staff update is free from errors that detract from the overall message.

Submission length: Maximum of two double-spaced content pages.

Font and font size: Use Times New Roman, 12-point.

Citations and references: Provide a separate reference page that includes 2–3 current, peer-reviewed and 1–2 current, non-peer-reviewed in-text citations and references (total of 3–5 resources) that support the staff update’s content. Current means no older than 5 years.

APA format: Be sure your citations and references adhere to APA format.

interprofessional staff update on HIPAA

Interprofessional Staff Update: Protecting PHI and Ensuring Responsible Social Media Use in Community Health Care

Protected Health Information (PHI) and HIPAA

Protected Health Information (PHI) refers to any information about a patient’s health status, treatment, or payment for healthcare that can be linked to a specific individual. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, mandates the protection of PHI and ensures its confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality

Privacy refers to the right of patients to control access to their PHI. Security involves protecting PHI from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. Confidentiality ensures that PHI is only accessed by authorized individuals for legitimate purposes. Examples of concerns include unauthorized access to electronic health records (EHRs), data breaches, and inadequate encryption methods.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Interdisciplinary collaboration is essential to safeguarding sensitive electronic health information. Nurses, physicians, administrators, and IT professionals must work together to implement and maintain effective security measures, policies, and procedures.

Social Media Best Practices

  • Maintain patient confidentiality at all times.
  • Avoid sharing identifiable patient information, even in general discussions.
  • Obtain explicit consent before posting any patient-related content.
  • Use separate professional and personal accounts.
  • Regularly review and update privacy settings.

Social Media Risks to Patient Information

  • Inadvertent disclosure of PHI through posts, comments, or images.
  • Breaches of patient confidentiality due to unauthorized access or hacking.
  • Legal and ethical implications, including patient trust erosion and professional consequences.

What Not to Do: Social Media

  • Do not post identifiable patient information, including photos or specific details of cases.
  • Avoid discussing work-related matters in a manner that could compromise patient privacy.
  • Refrain from engaging in negative or unprofessional behavior online, which can reflect poorly on the organization and the healthcare profession as a whole.

Steps to Take If a Breach Occurs

  • Immediately report the breach to the appropriate supervisor or privacy officer.
  • Document the details of the breach, including what information was compromised and how it occurred.
  • Cooperate fully with investigations and corrective actions to mitigate further risks.

Evidence Relating to Social Media Usage and PHI

  • Numerous cases of nurses being terminated for inappropriate social media use highlight the severity of the issue.
  • Healthcare organizations have imposed sanctions such as suspension or termination for violating social media policies.
  • Financial penalties for inappropriate social media use can be significant, ranging from fines to legal settlements.
  • Evidence-based strategies to prevent breaches include staff education, robust social media policies, and regular audits of online activity.


Protecting PHI and ensuring responsible social media use are paramount in community healthcare settings. By adhering to HIPAA regulations, maintaining interdisciplinary collaboration, and implementing best practices, we can uphold patient confidentiality and trust while leveraging the benefits of social media for professional networking and education.


  1. Smith, A. (2019). Social media and healthcare: A literature review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(11), e14044.
  2. HIPAA Journal. (2020). HIPAA violation fines and penalties. Retrieved from https://www.hipaajournal.com/hipaa-violation-fines/
  3. American Nurses Association. (2018). Social media do’s and don’ts. Retrieved from https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/nursing-excellence/official-position-statements/id/social-media-dos-and-donts/

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Interprofessional Staff Update on HIPAA
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