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Nursing Home Abuse and Social Media

January 21, 2016 | Category: Nursing Home Neglect/Abuse | Share

Nursing home patients deserve to be provided with reasonably professional and competent care.  Unfortunately, aides who work in nursing homes are often untrained and underpaid. Many different types of abuse and neglect can occur in a nursing home setting when staff members don't provide the care that patients deserve.  Ft. Myers personal injury attorneys like Randall Spivey can provide assistance to victims of abuse or neglect, or to family members of those killed in a nursing home due to staff negligence.

Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is much more common than most people want to believe. Washington Post recently reported on a troubling trend that could shed some light on why seniors in nursing homes are not getting the care they need. The trend involves nursing home staff members taking dehumanizing and humiliating photos of residents and posting them online. 

While many nursing home staff members are caring and compassionate, the trend towards staff posting embarrassing patient photos makes very clear that there are also a huge number of people working at nursing homes who don't see residents as worthy of care and respect. When staff members are abusive or neglectful, nursing homes can be held accountable. 

Nursing Home Staff Posting Inappropriate Patient Photos to Social Media

According to Washington Post, there have been at least 35 instances since 2012 where staff members from nursing facilities shared pictures of residents without a specific purpose or permission.  The photos involved the residents in embarrassing or compromising positions, including pictures where the residents were partially or totally unclothed. 

Photos and videos showed staff members coaching patients into repeating offensive rap lyrics; putting banners with inappropriate sayings on patients; and even staff members hitting a 97-year-old woman with dementia in the face.

Name-calling and hair pulling were also recorded in some videos that were posted online. At least 16 of the incidents involved Snapchat and many were not shared publicly but were sent only to small groups of friends.  These are just the incidents that are known about -- there are likely many more that have not come to light.

Some of the cases have resulted in criminal charges being pressed against staff members, as a variety of different laws could be violated when the pictures are posted, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which is a federal patient privacy law.   Many cases, however, have not even been reported, as patients with conditions like dementia often cannot speak up for themselves.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has reiterated that “nursing home residents must be free from exploitation and abuse,” and many of these pictures and videos are clearly both exploitive and abusive.  They are also symbolic of underlying problems that nursing homes have with managing staff and finding staff that has the compassion and experience necessary to effectively care for elderly residents. 

Abuse has consequences for seniors, with even emotional abuse demonstrated to increase the risk of death and to cause problems like depression. Personal injury attorneys can help victims and their families get monetary payments for damages so they can get a measure of justice when nursing homes let them down. Call the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. today for assistance with your case.

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