45. CASE: Un/Reasonable Expectations?

It’s one of those days that you don’t look forward to as a manager. You have two complaints about staff that need to be dealt with, and it seems that these types of issues are increasing.

The first complaint is from Ann about what was posted on another staff member’s social networking page.  Ann visited Gregor’s site (which was publicly viewable), only to read the complaints he made about his day, including quotes from “problem patients” to emphasize just what he had to deal with. While the patients weren’t identified, Ann felt that it would be possible for any staff member on the unit to know exactly who the quote was from.  And Ann felt it was inappropriate for Gregor to include this level of detail on a platform viewed regularly by his family and friends.  Ann also wondered if it would make a difference whether Gregor talked about staff members rather than patients on his page.

  • Was this social media posting appropriate?
  • Would it make a difference if Gregor talked about staff rather than patients on this webpage?
  • Is this a human resources issue or an ethics one?
  • What are the ethics issues to be addressed, if any?


The second complaint is from a patient, Greta, about the response that she received from one of your staff members about what Greta had posted on her social networking site. Greta uses her site to share regular updates about her health, as her family and friends are scattered around the world.  She finds it to be a great way to maintain her support network and values the input she receives.

Many of your staff who see Greta on a regular basis when she is in hospital are also “friends” on this site and receive these updates. Greta’s complaint is that this staff member corrected the health information Greta had posted and went on to explain some of the side effects that Greta had experienced.

  • Was this appropriate for the staff member to do?
  • Should staff be “friends” with Greta and interact online in this way?
  • What are the concerns from an ethics perspective?
  • How would you address this issue?


Some Values and Ethics Issues to Consider

  • Compliance with policies and procedures
  • Respect for privacy and confidentiality
  • Professional competence
  • Community and family relationships
  • Patient-provider relationships
  • Trust
  • Overlapping roles and responsibilities
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