After CNA Training: Blogging About Patients

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So, you’ve started your own blog, and you want to share your experiences after CNA training. That sounds like a great idea! Blogging about your work after CNA training is a way to help others learn from your experiences. But, do you know what you can and cannot share about the patients you care for? In order to avoid violating HIPAA, it’s important that you do. Whether you’re writing someone in your blog or just updating your status on Facebook, here’s what you have to avoid.

Avoid HIPAA Violations After CNA Training

  • The patient’s name can not be mentioned in your blog after CNA training.
  • Any geographical identifiers smaller than the state. This can include the city, the county, the precinct, the street address and the zip code. You can include the three initial digits of the zip code after CNA training, but there are some strict rules about doing so. For instance, one of the rules is that the first three digits must belong to a geographical location that has more than 20,000 residents living in it.
  • Any date, except the year, that is related to the patient you are talking about. This can include the admission date, date of birth, date of death, and discharge date. You are also not allowed to list any patients’ age.
  • You can’t list the patient’s phone number, fax number, health plan beneficiary number, medical record number, or social security number after CNA training.
  • Do not ever include the patient’s email address when writing after CNA training.

So, can I Still Blog After CNA Training?

You may be saying, “But you’ve blogged about your past patients in this very CNA training blog!” Yes, I have, and you can too. You just have to be respectful of their privacy. Keep in mind that they chose to allow you to take care of them, and that trust demands respect. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t share stories with others about your experiences if the story is educational and informative. You can actually include quite a bit of detail when blogging after CNA training, as long as you keep HIPAA laws in mind.

The key to doing this is to make sure that any details you give are non-specific, so they cannot be tied to the patient you are referring to. You can do this by changing certain details of the story so no one will know what patient you are referring to. For instance, if I were to tell you a story about one of my past patients after CNA training, it might sound like this.

After CNA training, I once cared for a patient, Anna, who had dementia. At times she really believed she was young and married, and she hated the fact that she was, for some reason, stuck in the nursing home with us. She’d make every attempt to escape, and would even watch us leave in order to learn the codes necessary to open the doors. She couldn’t walk very far, so she was in a wheelchair most of the time, and she quickly figured out how to disable the chair alarms (an alarm that was attached to the chair with a small clip that clipped to the back of her shirt. It would go off whenever she’d try to stand up on her own, so we would know and could help her so she would not fall.) She got around this by simply taking off her shirt so the alarm wouldn’t go off.

One day, her daughter came in and brought with her a small baby doll. She gave the doll to her mother, and Anna was completely consumed with it. She believed the baby to be her daughter, and chose to spend her time taking care of it, rather than planning her next escape. While the nurses and CNAs were all taught to not encourage these types of ideas, but to help dementia and Alzheimer patients remain in the present as much as possible, everyone agreed to let this be, for her safety. If she was content to take care of the baby, she was in less danger of getting out of her wheelchair and falling or escaping out of the facility.

With this story, you get to experience all of the details that are important, but I’ve left out anything specific that could be tied back to the patient. For instance, I’ve changed the name, avoiding using the date or place where it occurred, and I didn’t tell you her age. For all you know, I might have made it up to make a point on how to blog after CNA training.

When you finish CNA training, sharing your experiences and stories can help others understand more and be prepared for their lives as CNAs. Make sure you take the time to look over every post you write though; it shouldn’t including anything that could help identify the patient after CNA training.

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