Recently, there have been numerous instances of nursing home workers posting inappropriate photos and videos of residents on social media platforms. According to a non-profit investigative journalism organization, ProPublica, there is now a total of 65 postings since 2012, and the pace of reported incidents has increased. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have advised state health departments and companies, such as Snapchat, to investigate and curb such behavior.
Federal regulations dictate that nursing home workers owe a duty of care to residents and that nursing home residents are entitled to a safe environment, free from abuse or neglect. However, some nursing home workers do not uphold their duties, but rather use their positions to exploit residents in their care. Recently, an increasing number of nursing home workers have been posting embarrassing photos and videos of elderly residents on social media. Some of these workers now face civil and criminal penalties for their reprehensible actions.
Government inspections and media reports reveal many humiliating and cruel social media posts by nursing home employees. One report involved a nursing assistant taking a photo, which was shared on Snapchat, of a resident’s inner thighs and genitals while the resident was sitting on the toilet. In another case, a medical assistant took a video of two residents having sex and posted it on Snapchat. Another case involved a nursing assistant who posted a video of a fellow nursing assistant slapping a resident in the face with a nylon strap while the 97-year old, who suffers from dementia, pleaded with the assistant to stop.
The American Health Association’s Senior Vice President for Public Affairs stated that these actions jeopardize the privacy, dignity, and safety of the elderly, and they should be condemned and prosecuted to the fullest degree. CMS has asked state officials to investigate complaints expediently and to report offenders to licensing agencies for possible discipline.
A change in Iowa law was proposed after an inappropriate photo of a resident was shared by a nursing assistant and the offender could not be held liable due to the state’s definition of dependent adult abuse. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Iowa suggests that other states follow Iowa’s lead in taking steps to hold offenders liable. He believes that reporting is vital to enforcement and people are encouraged to come forward and report these instances so that offenders can be held accountable and understand that such behavior will not be tolerated under the law.
Snapchat is also making efforts to curb such abuse. The company has stated that the abusive behavior violates the law, company guidelines, and common decency. Snapchat is introducing a new system that will make reporting easier by allowing users to report abuse with the Snapchat app instead of having to go to the company website.
Instances of nursing home workers posting inappropriate photos or videos of residents on social media are on the rise. This epidemic is alarming, especially for residents of nursing homes and their loved ones. If you believe that your loved one was a victim of such abuse, contact an experienced New Jersey nursing home abuse lawyer at Davis & Brusca, LLC. We represent victims of nursing home abuse throughout New Jersey from our offices in Princeton. Contact us online or call us at 609-786-2540 to schedule a confidential consultation.