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March 4, 2013

Managing the Legal Risks of Social Media

By Lee Aase, Director, Mayo Clinic Social Media Network

Managing the Legal Risks of Social Media features Dan Goldman, J.D., legal counsel for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, providing an overview of legal and cultural issues involved in using social media in health care, as well as perspective on how to manage those issues successfully.


See the video from Dan Goldman embedded below. You may open the slides in a new window, or if you want to print his slides to follow along you may download them here.

Related Links and Resources
Dan Goldman also wrote an appendix on Keeping it Legal which you may find in our MCCSM book, Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care (pp. 75-82)

For Mayo Clinic Employees
Review the Social Media Guidelines for Mayo Clinic Employees. If you would like to discuss any of these questions confidentially, call (77) 8-1091.

For Non-Mayo Clinic Employees

  1. Invite your legal counsel to create a Network account and then share and discuss this post and how your organization has chosen to manage risk. If you have questions for Mayo about our guidelines, or for other members of the Network, please share them in the comments below. This post is only available to Network members.
  2. If you have developed social media guidelines or a policy, and if it is available online, include a link in your comment. We plan to develop a resource listing guidelines and policy documents from various organizations. If your policy is not online, but if you can send us a Word or PDF version, we would be happy to include it in the resource list.
  3. Does your organization allow employee access to social media from work computers? If not, what are the main reasons given for blocking these sites?


Tags: Learning Modules, Legal & Ethical Issues

Liked by Carol Vassar, Carole Gan, Carol Gunderson, p@trick


Posted by @jeffcazeault, Jun 7, 2013


I am attending the social media residency in NYC and my interest is the legal aspect of recruiting patients for clinical trials via social media. The FDA does not provide guidance on CRO and Patient Recruitment Companies in this manner…Can you provide me with some information and/links that may be helpful. Social Media Patient Recruitment is a rather new approach and I really like the case study that Mayo has on this….


Posted by @LeeAase, Jun 11, 2013

Hi Jeff – I look forward to seeing you next week in New York and talking through this. We have done several videos for clinical trial recruitment, and also have used Twitter and Facebook. We use the messages otherwise approved by our IRB for use in clinical trial advertising.

alison mallouk

Posts: 2
Joined: May 01, 2013
Posted by @amallouk, Jun 12, 2013

I am replying on behalf of Kelsey Aiosa and myself. Continuum’s legal policy and social media tool kits (attached) are available on our Intranet. As a general rule employees are able to access social media platforms from their personal PCs, however, individual managers can set time limits or restrictions if they feel it is effecting an employees work. Social media platforms are not always available from nursing station or mobile computers.

Additionally, not all sites are available on all machines (ie: not all have access to scribd) but employees have the option of submitting a request to be granted access.


Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 04, 2013
Posted by @mark994w, Jun 13, 2013

The legal risks of SM are complex and fraught with challenges and danger. At the same time these risks directly address why you want and should do SM. The power it has to destroy it can create. I think that is witnessed by how McDonalds and Kitchen Aid used SM to mitigate a SM issue. If I was creating a company policy and presenting it to employees I would use Managing the Legal Risks to speak about the power of SM and how managing it well only potentiates it power and benefit.

One point to consider in managing legal risks of SM is that it should be executed to a strategy that is selected by management and approved by senior employees and distributed to all employees. I would imagine that may help to focus SM on corporate goals and not silliness.


Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 08, 2013
Posted by @will, Sep 9, 2013

We have limited allowance for employees to access social media; Twitter, Facebook and some others although many Google services are limited. Our policies are on protected internal sites and are substantially limiting.

Jenn Dearborn, Web Manager

Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 20, 2013
Posted by @JennDearborn, Oct 16, 2013

Concord Hospital’s social media policy is available on the Hospital’s Intranet. Employees have access to social media networking sites via work computers.

Ashley Miller

Posts: 10
Joined: May 16, 2013
Posted by @lvhnashley, Oct 18, 2013

When I took on my role in social media here at LVHN, a robust social media policy was already in place. The document was a collaboration between our web team, HR and legal department. From my understanding it went through a lot of changes before all parties were satisfied and signed off on it. Recently, our legal department questioned our policies regarding our internal blog, Mission Central, and the legal ramifications we could receive from allowing colleagues to comment anonymously and without registering. During this time, I actually utilized this community to find out how others were handling these situations and was very happy to hear from employees at Mayo who described their policies which includes requiring full names on comments and making sure users were registered. We have since implemented these changes and have appeased our legal department.

As far as social media use, our organization does not allow for any social media usage on our work network. It’s an unfortunate situation that we’ve tried numerous times to change but there is just too much red tape for us to get through at this time. The main concerns are possible HIPAA violations and fear of what our colleagues would be posting about as well as the distraction from their work responsibilities. it also seems to be such a large issue that no one wants to take on the initiative to push for changes.

SMR, Class of Oct. 2013

Posted by @LeeAase, Oct 18, 2013

You will enjoy getting to talk with Dan Goldman, our legal counsel, on Monday. We’re hoping to have our White Paper on employee access soon, too. Will be sharing some survey results at the Summit.



Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 09, 2013
Posted by @awojcik, Oct 19, 2013

I’m new to social media in healthcare so I would like to better understand HIPAA considerations that one needs to take into account as one engages in this practice.

Posted by @LeeAase, Oct 19, 2013

You will enjoy getting to ask Dan Goldman your questions on Monday.

Carole Gan

Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 01, 2012
Posted by @CaroleGan, Oct 19, 2013

Great presentation. Our health system’s intranet site has substantial information on our social media policies and provides user-friendly tools to help employees properly navigate this media. We also monitor the health system name and work with our compliance office to remove inappropriate employee posts.

Cynthia Hoffmann

Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 07, 2013
Posted by @gohealthamerica, Oct 20, 2013

Of special interest to me are patient privacy issues . I would be interested in learning about Mayo’s process for ensuring that state, Fed and Mayo guidelines are followed.

Christine Caroline Mitchell

Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 24, 2013
Posted by @4ccmitchell, Oct 20, 2013

We do have a social media policy (working on getting a pdf for posting) that has been distributed through our employee handbook. However, employees are not encouraged to be on social media channels and if they do use social media, they are to do it on their own time and cannot access YouTube or any of our company videos. Makes it very difficult to engage employees-our strongest ambassadors.

Posted by @LeeAase, Oct 20, 2013

I’m liking your comment without liking all of the content, if that makes sense 😉 Appreciate you sharing and look forward to seeing your policy. Hopefully we can help you open up access.

Christine Caroline Mitchell

Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 24, 2013
Posted by @4ccmitchell, Oct 20, 2013

very helpful video, provided interesting insights and helpful techniques to work around complicated issues (engaging social media at the work place). Thank you!

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