A TikTok video by a nurse reacting to the death of one of her patients sparked a backlash on social media, with many calling the video “performative” and the nurse “cringeworthy.”
It’s possible that some medical professionals believe that the backlash against the nurse, who was unable to be contacted for comment and whose Twitter account appears to be private, went too far.
While “Unstoppable” by Sia plays in the background in the widely criticized video, the nurse can be seen placing both of her hands on her forehead. “I lost a patient today,” the text reads. That was followed by the phrase “shake of off; you still have 5 more hours.” It appears as if tears are dripping down her cheeks as she slumps forward, hands clasped in prayer. ‘It never gets easier,’ the caption read. The video has since been retweeted nearly 15 million times on Twitter.
According to those NBC News spoke to, TikTok did not appear to cross any ethical boundaries. It is likely that the nurse’s TikTok was a way for her to deal with the trauma, given that the platform has become a common place for health care workers to vent their exhaustion during epidemics.
There is a risk that the video will be seen as “attention seeking,” according to Dominic Sisti, an associate professor of medical ethics and health policy at Penn.
While this may be true for patients, Sisti continued, “the general public really does not grasp the unbelievable trauma that health care workers have experienced over the last three years.”
Psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression affect nurses at higher rates than the general population. The pandemic is only serving to exacerbate this disparity. Secondary traumatic stress disorders are common among nurses, primarily as a result of the profession’s constant exposure to life-and-death situations.
For a long time, nurses have used social media to stay in touch with patients and colleagues alike. The author of a 2019 Vox article coined the term “nursefluencer” to describe the rise of the nursing influencer. On TikTok, nursefluencers are now the norm. The hashtag #NurseTikTok is used by thousands of people in the community to post videos of their daily lives in the field.
The TikTok account @nursemegrn, which is run by registered nurse Meg Harrell, gives nurses a place to connect and share their experiences.
“It’s as if our break room has expanded into the entire world.” ‘It’s amazing!’ she exclaimed.
Some health care workers were lauded for posting videos of their experiences on TikTok during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Those types of videos were common during the pandemic, when I started [on TikTok]. Hadley Vlahos, a hospice nurse who runs the TikTok account @nursehadley, said people were referred to as heroes in the comments. A shift in the focus from Covid to something else has been interesting to see.”
Nurses aren’t the only ones who have made similar TikToks about how to cope with the loss of a patient. There have been numerous posts on Vlahos’ blog about patient death. It is in one of these videos that she tells the story of the most difficult patient death she’s ever had to face.
It’s not just the medical community that’s tired of the “grief bait” and “poor taste” content that’s making the rounds on social media.
It’s not uncommon to see Nurse Nya on TikTok making videos in which she criticizes other TikTok users for what she considers to be unprofessional behavior in their videos.
Twitter user Dr. Karen A. Scott shared a series of screenshots of TikTok videos by nurses in which they appear to make unintentional racist comments about their patients.
Abuse of obstetric violence and racism is defined as “unchecked behaviors that dehumanize patients, partners, parents, and family members.”
HIPAA does not apply directly to @olivia tylerr33’s post, but many hospitals have social media guidelines in place that prohibit employees from filming at work or in any other way harming the reputation of the hospital.
As a professional organization founded in 1896 to represent registered nurses, the American Nurses Association also provides social media etiquette for nurses on its website, but it does not have specific guidelines for TikTok on its site
Nurses are urged to adhere to six social networking guidelines. As part of that, nurses must adhere to “ethically prescribed professional patient-nurse boundaries.”
The ANA says “most principles come down to common sense” when it comes to advice. However, the organization reminds nurses that “standards of professionalism are the same online as they are in any other context.” To be clear, nurses are urged to “not share or post information or photos gained through the nurse-patient relationship” and to “maintain professional boundaries in the use of electronic media.”
Despite this, Harrell was sympathetic towards the nurse.
According to Harrell, he recalls his initial reaction to seeing the video. I thought, ‘Yeah,’ at first. Totally. Actually, I’m experiencing the exact same thing. ‘I’ve been there a lot, and it’s a real pain.’ It was, on the other hand, cringe-worthy.”
When it comes to online attacks on the @olivia tylerr33 video, Harrell believes that the video’s intended audience may not have been its primary target audience.
As Harrell put it, “She really was trying to share a complicated portion of the job that not many people talk about.” “And it was seen by people who weren’t in the health care industry and couldn’t identify with those emotions. As a result, it was interpreted as cringe-worthy by everyone.
According to Harrell, perhaps if this nurse had just opened up to the camera about her grief, people would have had a better reaction.
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