CAUTION: Social Media & The Cancer Registrar


As human beings we are social creatures with a need to interact and network with one another.  That has never been more evident than today in the 21st Century when social media has become a way of life.  With these resources, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to name a few, we are able to network with our fellow cancer registrars with just a few keystrokes in a matter of moments.  No more waiting to catch up and compare notes at state or regional meetings or trying to discuss a mutual case on the telephone between cancer conference, committee meeting and webinars.  However, be cautious.  As is the case with any other media source, just because it is written for the world to see, it does not make it fact.  At Registry Partners, we advise only using authoritative resources when seeking answers to our questions.  For example, questions posted on the CAnswer Forum, when answered by a CoC member with the displayed CoC logo, can provide answers to questions regarding AJCC staging, FORDS manual and CoC Standards.  The SEER Inquiry System (SINQ) provides answers to multiple primary and histology rules, hematopoietic and lymphoma questions as well as answers to ICD-0-3 coding questions.

Also keep in mind if posting information regarding a case on social media, it is not confidential or confined to the registrar community or to the person we are attempting to reach.  Private messages or posts to a social media site are not HIPAA compliant.  Social media posts are a permanent item.  Once posted, there is no complete removal.  Even without the normal PHI identifiers, there may be a way to identify a particular patient.  As registrars, we are detectives.  Think about how easy it would be to track an unusual case on social media.  Many people have their hospital or company in their profiles.  If a particular facility only sees an unusual case once or twice a year, we could possibly figure out the patient.  Or as a patient reading through posts, maybe the information is very close to the patient’s situation and the patient may think the post is their information.  Even if that isn’t true, it would give a patient pause about returning to the same facility.  No one would want their medical information out there for anyone to view.

Utilize the CAnswer Forum and SINQ for any questions.  Not only because of the reliability of the answer, but for patient confidentiality.  The QC staff loves to answer and research questions, so utilize your QC manager.  QC staff enjoy a challenge and assisting in locating an answer.


*The article is part of the Registry Partners Oncology QC Newsletter- Summer 2016 Edition.  Follow the blog to read more articles from the Newsletter or contact us to receive a copy of the full newsletter to share with your team!