Nursing home abuse is a growing problem in the United States, and it just
keeps getting worse. Workers are increasingly taking humiliating pictures
of residents and posting them on social media without their consent, according
to a new report.
For loved ones who have trusted a nursing home to care for an elderly family
member, it is unthinkable that workers would find it amusing to share
photos of residents partially undressed or covered in excrement. Yet,
according to ProPublica, the incidents occur much more frequently than most of us would expect.
Its report details 47 incidents since 2012 in which nursing homes and assisted-living
center employees shared photos or videos of residents on social media
platforms. ProPublica gathered the data from government inspection reports,
lawsuits, and media reports. In a 2015 incident in California, an employee
took footage of a partially nude woman getting in the shower, while another
employee stood behind the resident laughing. Both workers were suspended
and later fired. One is facing misdemeanor charges of elder abuse and
unauthorized invasion of privacy. The facility was not cited.
In response to the ProPublica report, the inspector general of the federal
Department of Health and Human Services
sent an alert to 50 State Medicaid Fraud Control Units. It advised investigators to be increasingly aware of social media nursing
home abuse and investigate complaints accordingly.
For concerned loved ones, it is important to be proactive. Ask the nursing
home administrator if there are employee policies governing cell phone
and social media use. If nursing home workers are permitted to carry their
phones while working, it is important to verify that they have been properly
trained regarding patient privacy. Loved ones can also use the federal
government’s online tool,
medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare, to check the overall reputation of the facility.
If you or someone you love has fallen victim to elder abuse or nursing
home negligence, don’t hesitate to contact
a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation.