Social media used in nursing home abuse

Most people in Alabama would likely say that their parent or other family member played a significant role in their life. As such, they want to return that love and care when a loved one becomes unable to care for him or herself. Unfortunately, many people must ultimately make the difficult decision to place their family member in a nursing home or other care facility when the family member's need exceed a person's care capabilities. Adding additional stress to these families members is the prevalence of nursing home abuse.  

Unfortunately, the increased use of social media is opening new avenues of abuse. Some nursing home workers have been discovered posting dehumanizing and embarrassing pictures of their elderly patients on social media. Some of the photos even document physical abuse. These acts may be in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

An organization that tracks instances of such abuse found 35 cases of such abuse since 2012. While there were 22 cases in the last two years, there were only 13 cases in the two years before that. Unfortunately, these abuses are not typically discovered by the care facility until a member of the community -- a recipient of a degrading photo, for example -- provides notification. This leaves some wondering how many instances of such abuse go unreported.

Too many families in Alabama have to question the quality of care their loved one receives in a nursing home. For those whose loved one has been harmed as a result of nursing home abuse, there are legal options available. By pursuing legal recourse, future patients could potentially be protected from similar abuse in the future.

Source: The Washington Post, "Nursing home workers have been posting abusive photos of elderly on social media", Charles Ornstein, Dec. 21, 2015

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