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Nursing Home Workers Posting Abusive Photos via Social Media

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on May 06, 2016 in Nursing Home Abuse

nursing home privacy invasionIn a study published by The Washington Times and ProPublica, it was revealed that nursing home residents are suffering abuse via social media when staff members publish degrading nursing home pictures of residents. As a newer type of abuse, social media nursing home abuse breaks the law and violates the elderly's patient privacy.

Since 2012, ProPublica has found 35 cases in which nursing home or assisted living employees shared partially nude or nude photos and videos of residents via social media websites like Snapchat. Snapchat is a type of social media, implicated in 16 of the 35 cases, that permits users to upload photos and videos that are visible for seconds before they disappear.

The incidents were discovered through government inspections studies, court cases and media reports and are believed to be underreported due to dementia suffered by some residents. While most of the incidents do not entail criminal allegations so far, they may violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which carries criminal and civil penalties. They also breach Snapchat's Terms of Use that mandates users promise to respect other people's rights.

Nursing home facilities rarely reported the humiliating photos and videos. Instead, the abuse was revealed when employees or community members reported the incidents.

To date, no nursing home has been punished for violating patient privacy rights via social media by the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services and no recommendations to health care providers has been issued on this subject. However, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has handed down citations and is planning to address social media nursing home abuse in updated regulations.

At Phillips Law Group, we want to help you if your loved one has been an innocent victim of nursing home abuse. Reach out to our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys to find out how you can take action and file a claim right away.

Call 1-800-706-3000 or fill out a Free Case Evaluation.

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