Each year, New Yorkers who are unable to care for their loved ones make the difficult decision to put them in a nursing home. With the lives of their relatives at stake, people want to believe that the care given in these facilities is up to par. However, this is sadly not always the case. Fortunately, there are ways to hold negligent parties responsible for their actions.
Nursing home abuse has always been a major concern in facilities all across America. Sexual assault, sedation of residents with antipsychotic drugs and negligent care are common forms of mistreatment. A new form of abuse involves technology, and more specifically, social media.
ProPublica recently discovered multiple instances where nursing home workers shared explicit photos and videos exploiting and taunting the residents. Some of these posts occurred on Snapchat, a popular social media service. Posting these pictures without permission may be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Nursing homes have been finding out about these posts with the help of other staffers, friends of the posters and other community members.
While some of these cases have led to criminal charges, a majority of them have not. Snapchat has spoken out against such behavior and many facilities are taking action by instituting stricter rules involving cell phone usage and social media amongst employees. However, some facilities continue to let these employees continue working after just a warning about cell phone use on the job. The lack of rules and consequences causes major problems involving elder abuse and invasion of privacy. Victims of such abuse and negligence and their families may be able to file lawsuits against those responsible to recover compensation for their suffering.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Degrading photos on social media pose rising threat to nursing home patients," Charles Ornstein, Dec. 21, 2015