Please review the Washington University Department of Surgery social media policy and guidelines below. For questions regarding this policy or any other efforts on social media, please reach out to the Surgery Marketing and Communications team at


Who: This policy applies to all Washington University Department of Surgery faculty, staff and trainees who participate in social media. Existing and established organization-wide policies and guidelines on social media can found here: Washington University Public Affairs Social Media Policy.

What: Social media can mean many things. Social media includes all means of communicating, posting and sharing information or content of any sort online or through electronic communications. This includes but not limited to: social networking platforms of any kind, personal or WashU MPA approved websites, virtual video platforms like Zoom, and personal or professional blogs. Regardless of privacy settings, all postings should be and will be considered public and freely visible by the Department of Surgery.

Why: The goal of our department is to encourage effective, appropriate, and safe communication as we participate in a digital world. These guidelines ensure employees uphold and exemplify Washington University’s confidential, proprietary information, reputation and brand.

Remember your stories and expertise have the power to inspire someone to join WashU, support us as a partner, comfort a parent or spouse, and increase awareness of WashU around the country. We encourage department team members to actively participate in social media and highlight their skills and experience. The following guidelines ensures you, your patients and communities are protected when doing so.

Overall Guidelines

As an extension and representative of Washington University School of Medicine and partner institutions, additional Department level expectations and guidelines for any and all social media accounts are as follows:

Rule of thumb: When in doubt, if you would not want the entire department to see your content, please refrain from posting.

  • Follow the same code of conduct, values, ethics and confidentiality policies all employees are expected to adhere to while communicating on social media or any personal or professional interactions.
  • Act respectfully, responsibly, ethically and professionally.
  • Make every effort to ensure that your posts and comments are honest, accurate and factual.
  • Write in first person to ensure you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of WashU.
    • Employees are encouraged to include “Posts are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of WashU Med” somewhere in your social media profile.
  • Ensure all activity is HIPAA compliant.
  • Share positive aspects of WashU and being part of a GREAT organization. The Department encourages employees to actively participate in social media and use the hashtag #WashUSurgery.
  • Do not violate HIPPA regulations.
    • Under no circumstances should patient information be obtained or discussed on social media, even in private messages.
    • Offering patient-specific diagnosis or medical advice on social media is strictly prohibited.
  • Do not represent yourself as a spokesperson for WashU.
  • Do not discriminate. This includes but not limited to age, sex, race, color, religion, orientation/identity, origin, citizenship, disability, marital status, or any other legally recognized protected basis.
  • Do not engage in negative conversations or online criticism. If these conversations arise, please reach out to to address and advise such conversations.
  • If you are unsure whether or not to post something, please err on the side of caution and do not post.
  • Protect yourself!
    • You are personally responsible for any content you publish.
    • Please remember that you are visible online and the internet never forgets.
  • Patients can find you online. If you would not want a patient to see a post, do not post.
  • Employees are strongly discouraged from interacting with patients through social media. These interactions can have legal consequences for the physician, patient and WashU.
    • If a patient reaches out to you on social media, please reply with the message below.
      “Hi XX. Thank you for your message. Please call (XXX) XXX-XXXX to discuss further or to schedule an appointment. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Specific Accounts


Social media activity deemed unprofessional, inappropriate or not aligned with Washington University brand guidelines are determined by the Department of Surgery and Washington University Medical Public Affairs. Any violations of the guidelines above will follow the compliance and violations outlined in the Washington University Public Affairs Social Media Policy.