Nursing Home Employees Using Social Media to Post Abusive Photos of Elderly Patients
Employees of nursing homes across the U.S. have taken to social media venues, specifically Snapchat, to post photographs of elderly patients that are embarrassing, dehumanizing, and quite possibly in violation of the law. At the very least, these photos violate the patients’ rights to their personal privacy and dignity.
In some instances, the photos and videos posted involved patients in states of full or partial nudity. One case mentioned in The Washington Post involved a recording of a 97-year-old patient with dementia being slapped in the face with a nylon strap and crying out for the perpetrator to stop, while the employees just laughed.
The problem with stopping this kind of behavior is that it is often done in private groups. In the case of Snapchat, the photos and videos are sent only to a select group of people. Most facilities don’t find out this is going on unless one of the people receiving the message reports the violation.
The general consensus is that this is a widely under-reported crime that may violate HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations. If nothing else, it violates the good faith people put into nursing home facilities to care for and protect the dignity of loved ones who are no longer able to do things for themselves. It’s an egregious violation of ethics by the employees who take these actions.
The ready access and instant nature of social media often leads people to make posts without thinking about the consequences or the privacy rights of others. In some instances, photographs of elderly patients singing rap song lyrics might have been all in good fun. There may have been no ill intent at all. However, recording someone singing lyrics they don’t understand and would find offensive if they did, is still a violation.
Unfortunately, this is new legal ground for the moment. Most nursing homes have not yet adopted policies regarding social media. In addition, at this point in time, no laws have been made regarding social media in relation to elder abuse.
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused in this manner or you have seen social media photographs involving your loved one or someone else in the same facility, it’s time to consult the nursing home abuse attorneys at Garcia & Artigliere to help you determine what your next move should be. Call today at 1(800)281-8515 for a free consultation.