Nursing home employees who take and distribute demeaning photos or videos of patients on social media platforms should be forewarned: The feds are getting involved.
These images, as our nursing home abuse lawyers have detailed, have included humiliating depictions of residents who are unclothed, covered in their own waste or even deceased. In some cases, the images show actual nursing home abuse. Most of the images are uploaded to a platform called Snapchat.
Following a journalism non-profit ProPublica series on the troubling issue, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal government agency responsible for oversight of nursing homes in the U.S., has issued a memorandum to state health departments indicating:
- Ensuring all nursing homes have clear policies that forbid staffers from taking demeaning photos of residents;
- Requiring state health officials to swiftly launch an investigation into any complaints of such treatment;
- Calling on nursing homes to report any workers who violate these policies immediately to state officials or other licensing agencies.
It is the state agencies that typically enforce and mete out the discipline in these cases. The federal intervention is noteworthy because these are the agencies that pay for the majority of nursing home residents’ care. Failure to abide by these directives could be a breach of patients’ basic rights to dignity and quality treatment, which in turn could be grounds to deny federal payment. Continue reading →