I just did some blogroll housekeeping, which I like even less than real housekeeping, and it got a lot shorter. A lot of medical blogs are disappearing or becoming password-protected. Many of my favorite bloggers have stopped blogging because they fear being fired ("someone found out who I was so I'm shutting down my blog"). Others have simply moved on, and good on them---if you don't have anything to say, then there is no reason to flog yourself ("blog-flogging" = forcing yourself to blog when you have nothing to say). This HIPAA hysteria increasingly bothers me. I have the same fears, and my hospital is all over social media. As they should be. I'm a nurse before a blogger, and I care about patient privacy and patient advocacy first. Period. However, freedom of speech is also important. Social media has so much value to the medical field that I increasingly fear the use of "HIPAA" as an excuse to smother unpleasantness of any kind, and it's getting a little out of hand.
For example, some nurses at my job are freaking out because, as a result of a vaguely worded education module, they believe we can be fired for swearing on Facebook (the logic being someone MIGHT know where we work and MIGHT be offended by our behavior and MIGHT see us as representatives of the hospital). I, conversely, am forcing myself to give my employers some credit and to assume they mean something more along the lines of "please don't list yourselves as employees of this hospital and then post photos of yourselves waving a bong around while someone opens a beer keg tap over your face." Because that's a really reasonable request/policy.
We healthcare professionals need to be able to communicate amongst ourselves, and the blogosphere is one of the best platforms to do it currently. I beg of our employers to please give us some credit. We are professionals. We know what HIPAA is. We know how to scramble patient stories so that the patients cannot be identified; we need to be able to mention some aspects of patient care so that we can learn from each other. HIPAA does not mean "never talk about having patients at all." Please also allow us to discuss our work environments. Because we come up with stuff that will improve them. Nurses are pretty inventive and flexible people, but we can't set the world on fire if we're in a social-media half-nelson.
Brain Scramble, Crass-Pollination, and my other sisters out there who have gone to the blog happy hunting grounds...I miss you and thank you for the wisdom and laughter you passed along before closing up shop.