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MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Follow these guidelines for social media

by Heather Woolwine

Public Relations
Given the proliferation of social media in today’s world, most people have heard of it. You know… Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linkedn, and Foursquare, just to name a few. What you may not know is that MUSC, MUHA and UMA now have social media guidelines for all those employees or faculty who wish to engage others in this digital realm while representing these entities.
These guidelines were created by Business Development and Marketing Services and the MUSC Office of Public Relations, with input from MUSC/MUHA Compliance, Human Resources, legal counsel, and the OCIO (Office of the Chief Information Officer) Office. They can be found at or Students will have a different set of guidelines, coming soon from the Office of the Associate Provost for Education and Student Life.
Social media is a complex landscape with many twists and turns. What may be appropriate for one person to disclose on a Facebook page may not be appropriate for another. Employers look at people’s social media pages and outlets for insight into how individuals present themselves publicly, and various groups and causes have found social media particularly useful as a communication medium for events and information. Businesses, universities and hospitals, such as the MUSC enterprise, have also entered the social media world. Some people choose to keep separate work and personal social media accounts throughout the various platforms to ensure that they do not make any errors that could reflect on their job at MUSC.
When participating in this kind of activity in relation to work at MUSC, it is imperative that MUSC, MUHA, and UMA employees remember that the same codes of conduct, HIPAA regulations, and liability issues apply in the digital world just as they do in the physical one. For example, it’s not OK to talk about patients’ cases in the elevator, and it’s not OK to talk about them on Facebook. While respectful of everyone’s right to free speech, these guidelines are about maintaining patient confidentiality and the highest standards for professional conduct at MUSC.
At this time, the following Facebook pages are MUSC-related and approved:
  • Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)
  • MUSC Hollings
  • MUSC Kids
  • MUSC Women’s Services
  • MUSC Transplant
  • MUSC Storm Eye
  • MUSC College of Health Professionals
  • MUSC Library
  • 1 West at MUSC
  • 20+ pages of MUSC groups
You do not need to be a member of Facebook to see these pages on the Internet.
In addition to this official Facebook presence, MUSC also hosts two blogs, WomenSpeak and Hollings Cancer Center. Online discussion communities exist for the Children’s Hospital, Digestive Disease Center/Bariatric Surgery, and Transplant Services. MUSC also has its own YouTube channel, which can be found at And if you are a fan of Twitter, try following MUSCPR, MUSC Health, MUSC Hollings, MUSCKids, or MUSC Sports Med.
MUSC, MUHA or UMA employees who would like to register their MUSC social media activity and who have not yet done so are encouraged to contact their related compliance office, the MUSC Office of Public Relations or Marketing for verification and inclusion in the MUSC list. If you suspect that someone is representing MUSC and is in violation of a code of conduct, excellence standards, or HIPAA, print out the screen in question and deliver to a compliance officer. Reporting suspect online behavior maintains the three P’s at MUSC: Productivity, Professionalism and Privacy.

Important contacts
University Compliance: 792-0319 (Mike Wheeler,
Hospital Compliance: 792-7795 (Reece Smith,
Office of Public Relations: 792-7669 (Heather Woolwine,
Business Development & Marketing Services: 792-7499
UMA Compliance: or 876-1321

Facebook Quiz- Is this OK?
1. As you peruse a fellow practitioner’s Facebook page while on your lunch break, you notice that she had a tough night at work and has taken to her page to vent. It’s OK to vent on Facebook, so long as she has:
a. not mentioned any patients or staff by name
b. maintains a professional tone and refrains from using profanity
c. has not revealed any details to identify the patient/staff person she is venting about
d. all of the above

2. You are cruising through Facebook and you come across a post by an angry MUSC patient who is blasting your unit for what he perceived as inhumane treatment. You should:
a. jump on the same comment thread and tell the patient he is wrong, and why he is wrong
b. comment politely that he might not understand how patient care works
c. make note of the patient’s name, the unit he is complaining about and print the screen and turn it into a compliance officer
d. b and c

3. On your Facebook page profile, you proudly declare that you are an MUSC employee, and your friends have become accustomed to the funny and witty stories you sometimes tell about work. You’ve been very careful to honor people’s privacy since you’ve begun to network on the site. You just read an article about legalizing marijuana, and you actually agree with some of the arguments for doing it. You’d like to post the article to your Facebook page. You should:
a. post it with the caveat that while you are not a user, you see some good points in this article
b. tell everyone that this is an interesting article and they should read it in order to form their own opinion
c. encourage everyone to read the article because you found it interesting, and note that this is obviously just your opinion
d. none of the above

Answers from Facebook Quiz
1. d. Employees and staff are free to express themselves, but should remember that in doing so, they must remain professional at all times and ensure the privacy or their coworkers and patients.

2. c. Conversations can quickly take a turn for the worse on social networking sites, and you don’t want to say anything that can be held against you or MUSC in terms of liability, violations of privacy or the like. The best thing in this case is to turn the information over to a compliance officer so that he or she can follow up with those involved, the patient and the MUSC Office of Public Relations.

3. The safest route  is d. While disclaimers can help, if you have positioned your profile and social media persona around MUSC, anything could be misconstrued to say that you are representing an MUSC official position. It's better to be safe, than sorry.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.