Upon starting this blog and up until this point, I had it set in my mind that this was going to be an anonymous blog. A digital record allowing me to archive my quest of becoming a nurse. I had concluded that by maintaining anonymity, I would be protecting patients if I wrote about situations and it would be a great outlet for education and growth between myself and readers of the same or similar passions.
Over the past few days, I have been updating this blog to near perfection (for its sole purpose and all intentions). I have also been reviewing other nursing blogs to see what kind of content they are including to help me find my voice and start a meaningful record of information. Through my investigation, I have come to a stunning realization:
Keeping myself anonymous does not do a thing to protect patient interactions or patient identity. This would only protect myself (assuming no one ever figured out my identity).
I’ve realized I have gone about this blog and experience all wrong.
I spoke to a colleague of mine about my newly developed apprehension of my nameless blog. His advice, “You should definitely associate your name with your blog. Your name will give you credibility and once you pass the NCLEX, your RN title will offer even more”. Let me just quickly point out that he is not in the healthcare field, I myself do not even work in healthcare but that advice sure resonated with me because it is 100%, indisputably, correct.
Who is going to take some nameless person on the internet seriously? At least once I get my STNA, I am a searchable entity who earned a license and is credible. That knowledge will build and grow over the years into an RN title.
Now back to the patient part and the primary reason I decided to write on this topic. I respect each and every nurse out there, even the ones that post about their patient interactions. I will not be making such documentation.
Nursing is an ethical practice. Let’s look at the word “ethic”. To me, it is synonymous with the word “moral”. Having morals to me is doing the right thing. When I really sat to contemplate this blog and my passion for becoming a nurse, I though about what it would be to put myself in a patient’s perspective. That was relatively easy since I have two daughters and had to undergo two c-sections which is an automatic slumber party in the hospital for three days. I thought to myself, how would I feel if I stumbled upon the blog of one of my nurses and she had written about me as a patient?
A lot of nurses who blog use a method of de-identifying patients by removing the 18 elements of protected health information (PHI). Some even change names and characteristics. The reason I will not align myself with this practice is because I refuse to in any way jeopardize the career that I am working towards or have anyone question my morals or ethics. More importantly, I never want to look myself in the mirror and question my own.
To answer my earlier question, I don’t know how I would personally feel about finding a blog that was based on a nurse’s experience of me and even more important, I don’t know how any future patient of mine would feel. Every single person in this world is a unique soul and we all have our own different opinions, ideas and characteristics. We also change throughout our lives, what someone was once okay with, may be something they disagree with in the passing of time.
Bottom line is, I feel it is extremely important to do unto others. Even if I “de-identify” someone, I am still writing about an experience based on a real person so my personal ethics will not allow for it. As a result, this is no longer an anonymous blog and I will be updating my welcome page and adding a new “about me” section in the next few days.
What are your personal thoughts on the nursing ethics and the HIPAA 18 elements? Do you write about patient experiences? If so, how do you make sure you are protecting yourself and the patient?