Government Crack Down on Social Media Abuse of Nursing Home Patients
A series of investigative reports by ProPublica documents nursing home staff posting photographs and videos to social media of residents who were abused, naked, covered in feces, and even deceased. Staff posted to such social media platforms as Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.
This inappropriate activity prompted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement guidelines to stop this form of abuse of vulnerable nursing home residents.
Nursing Homes Requirements to Stop Social Media Abuse
In May 2016, the CMS issued a memo regarding the rights of nursing home residents to be free of social media abuse; and the duties of nursing homes to prevent these practices from occurring:
- Nursing home staff is broadly defined to include employees, consultants, volunteers, contractors, and other individuals who provide care and services to residents.
- Nursing home residents have a right to be free of all forms of abuse, including mental abuse. Taking or using photographs and videos of residents that demean or humiliate them in any way is a form of abuse.
- A nursing home resident has a right to privacy of both his body and his personal space. Taking any photographs or videos of the resident or his personal space without written consent from him or his legal representative is a violation of his right to privacy and confidentiality.
- Nursing homes must develop and implement written policies that prohibit all forms of abuse—including social media abuse.
- Nursing homes must train employees on abuse prohibition policies, including the prohibition on taking or using demeaning photos and videos of residents.
- If a nursing home receives a report of social media abuse, it must investigate promptly; report it to the appropriate state agency; and take steps to immediately stop the abuse.
- Appropriate state agencies must also quickly investigate any claims that nursing home staff is engaging in social media abuse.
Do you suspect a loved one is the victim of social media abuse? If so, you may need to file a complaint and assert your family member’s legal rights for him. Call Morton Law Offices today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you stop the abuse.
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