Social Media Guidelines

Guidelines for the Public

At CHOC, we invite you to join us on our various social media sites and welcome your comments and stories. That being said, please be aware that once you post something online, it can and will be read by others and can be made available in cyberspace for years to come. As a result, we suggest that you exercise caution when posting medical information on any of our social media sites and that you not disclose personal identifiable information like your location, medical record number, financial information, etc.

CHOC reserves the ultimate right to edit or delete any comments deemed inappropriate for this site and its readers.

By posting any comments, posts or other material on CHOC-sponsored sites or blogs, you give CHOC the irrevocable right to reproduce, distribute, publish, display, edit, modify, create derivative works from, and otherwise use your submission for any purpose in any form and on any media. You also agree that you will not:

  1. Post material that infringes on the rights of any third party, including intellectual property, privacy or publicity rights
  2. Post material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, abusive, slanderous, hateful or embarrassing to any other person or entity as determined by CHOC in its sole discretion
  3. Post off-topic and redundant comments (this includes promotion of events, groups, pages, websites, organizations, and programs not related to or affiliated with CHOC)
  4. Impersonate another person
  5. Allow any other person or entity to use your identification for posting or viewing comments
  6. Post the same note more than once or “spam”
  7. Post comments that violate the privacy of our patients and their families.

Finally, you agree that you will indemnify CHOC against any damages, losses, liabilities, judgments costs or expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs) arising out of a claim by a third party relating to any material you have posted.

Information posted to any CHOC social media site by participants or any third party (e.g. commenter) should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to replace consultation with a qualified physician or other health care provider. Participants will not evaluate, endorse or recommend any particular health care providers, medications or treatments.

All links to other websites found linked from this site are provided as a service to readers, but such linkage does not constitute endorsement of those sites by CHOC, and as such we are not responsible for the content of external websites.

Guidelines for CHOC Representatives

If you participate in social media on CHOC’s behalf, always:

  • Respect patient privacy and follow HIPAA rules and guidelines
  • Know and follow the law, CHOC Privacy Policies and the CHOC Social Media Use Policy
  • Know and follow our iCARE principles
  • Follow the terms and conditions for any third-party sites.

Be transparent. Web communities are savvy and will know if you are misrepresenting yourself online. If you are discussing your work at CHOC, use your real name, identify that you work (or volunteer) for CHOC, and be clear about your role. Stick to your area of expertise and provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on at CHOC. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, let people know. If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction.

Your reputation — and ours — is a stake. In online social networks, the lines between personal and professional may blur. Just by identifying yourself as a CHOC associate or affiliate, you are creating perceptions about your expertise by our patients and families, donors, and the public at large. At the same time, perceptions about you are being created by your colleagues and constituents. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with CHOC values and standards. Even if you are participating in a non-CHOC site and do not disclose your affiliation with CHOC and are participating in discussion that is not related to CHOC in any way, chances are someone knows you and about your relationship with us. Protect CHOC’s reputation and your own by being conscientious about what you post. Once it makes its way to the Internet, it may be impossible to get back. Do not assume, even with privacy settings enabled, that something you post won’t be copied or shared by someone else. If you wouldn’t say it or do it in person, don’t post it online.

Encourage conversation. Write the way you would talk to real people in a professional environment. Post meaningful, respectful comments and stay on topic. Do not spam or utilize the discussion for personal promotion or gain. Create content that’s open-ended and invites response. Encourage comments and discussion. Broaden the conversation by citing others who are blogging about the same topic and allowing your content to be shared or syndicated. Link back to where appropriate.

Add value. Social communication from CHOC should help our families, donors and the public by communicating information that has value to them. It should be thought-provoking and build a sense of community. If it helps people by inspiring them, motivating them to give or volunteer, join our team or just understand us better, it’s adding value.

Create excitement. As a health care system, CHOC is making important contributions to our community. Let’s share with the world the exciting things we’re doing. If you know of or have any ideas about great things that are happening at CHOC that you think should be shared with our online communities or need help telling a story, contact the public relations department.

Negative posts about CHOC. We wish to use social media as a way to connect with anyone who wants to have a relationship with us and to encourage open dialog, even when it reflects on us in a negative way. The nature of social media gives our customers a voice and allows us to quickly respond to issues that may come to light on the World Wide Web. If you become aware of any posts that are negative about CHOC or its services, contact the public relations department so we can facilitate a timely and appropriate response.

Do not engage in inflammatory discussion. It is not necessary to respond to every criticism. You can invite differing points of view without inflaming others. Be careful and considerate. If you are concerned about something that has been posted online about CHOC and are unsure how (or if) you should respond, refer to the Response Grid or contact the public relations department.

Be responsive. Replies to comments should be made in a timely manner, when a response is appropriate (refer to the response grid). If you don’t know the answer, contact a subject matter expert and get one. If there will be a delay, be sure to post that you are consulting with someone and will provide the answer as soon as it is available.

Moderation. CHOC reserves the right to moderate and/or remove any content that does not adhere to its guidelines or policies. We will not remove content that is unfavorable to CHOC if it remains in context to the conversation. Sites will be monitored and content will be rejected or removed if it is ugly, offensive, denigrating or completely out of context.

Protect the CHOC brand. Use of CHOC logos or trademarks without permission is prohibited. The marketing and communications department can provide appropriate logos and artwork for your use. Please complete our logo request form.

Initiating a social media effort for CHOC. If you are interested in creating a social media presence of any kind that will represent or benefit CHOC, it must be approved by the marketing and communications department. Please contact public relations department for more information.

What you publish is your responsibility. If you want to participate as an official representative of CHOC, contact the public relations department. But keep in mind that what you write is ultimately your responsibility (and you could be held liable). Be sure to follow the law, these guidelines, CHOC policy and any terms and conditions of the sites you are participating in. If you are unsure about the appropriateness of anything you are about to post, take a minute to review these guidelines. If you’re still unsure, contact the public relations department.

Guidelines for Physicians

If you are interested in creating a presence in social media as a CHOC-affiliated physician, please contact the public relations department at If you are already active in social media, please follow the guidelines above. The American Medical Association has released its own policy for the use of social media for physicians (

AMA Policy: Professionalism in the Use of Social Media

The Internet has created the ability for medical students and physicians to communicate and share information quickly and to reach millions of people easily. Participating in social networking and other similar Internet opportunities can support physicians’ personal expression, enable individual physicians to have a professional presence online, foster collegiality and camaraderie within the profession, provide opportunity to widely disseminate public health messages and other health communication. Social networks, blogs, and other forms of communication online also create new challenges to the patient-physician relationship. Physicians should weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online:

(a) Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.

(b) When using the Internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content is likely there permanently. Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.

(c) If they interact with patients on the Internet, physicians must maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethical guidelines just, as they would in any other context.

(d) To maintain appropriate professional boundaries physicians should consider separating personal and professional content online.

(e) When physicians see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional they have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual, so that he or she can remove it and/or take other appropriate actions. If the behavior significantly violates professional norms and the individual does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation, the physician should report the matter to appropriate authorities.

(f) Physicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for their medical careers (particularly for physicians-in-training and medical students), and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.