Nursing Home Resident Abuse Shared Via Social Media May Go Unpunished

Posted by PKSD Law Firm on Jul 18, 2016 in Nursing Home Abuse

nurse posting to social mediaCases of nursing home caretakers who share images and video of their actions through social media channels are being reported at alarming rates – the problem is, sharing this media may not be illegal.

A recent case of nursing home abuse by an Iowa caretaker who shared a disparaging image of a resident via social media app Snapchat led to the caregiver’s firing. During the investigation, state health officials determined that the act of sharing the image online was not illegal, which means the woman remains eligible to work in other nursing home facilities in Iowa.

The Iowa law intended to protect nursing home residents from abuse is outdated, according to critics. With its last revision occurring in 2008, it has not been updated to encompass infractions involving today’s social media apps.

Government officials as well as nursing home administrators are struggling to identify cases of abuse documented on social media. These incidents are often unreported, as residents do not have their own social media accounts in which to uncover such photos and file complaints. Most incidents have been reported by other workers.

Across the country, state and local prosecutors have been aggressively pursuing such cases under elder abuse laws, as well as those prohibiting sexual exploitation and indecency. Posting photos of nursing home residents on social media may also be considered an invasion of privacy, though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has yet to act in such cases to enforce the HIPAA federal patient privacy law.

The rise in incidents of abuse involving social media, prompted several law makers to push for measures to prevent employees from positive exploitative content on social media.

Although there are still no specific laws banning the use of social media by nursing home employees, last month, the American Health Care Association released a training kit that included recommendations for employee policies regarding the use of social media while at work. The kit is an important step in helping prevent this type of abuse of innocent nursing home residents.

If someone you love has been abused by nursing home caregivers in any way, your family may be entitled to compensation. The nursing home abuse attorneys of Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula & Dentice will review your claim at no cost to you and inform you of your legal options.

Call 877-877-2228 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form now.

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