Feds Crack Down on Social Media Abuse in Nursing Homes

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is the federal government office that regulates nursing homes, issued a memo to all state health departments recently concerning the usage of social media to abuse residents. The memo instructed that all nursing homes and long-term care facilities should have policies in place that prohibit staff members from taking demeaning or disparaging photographs of residents and then broadcasting them on social media. This crackdown on social media policies comes on the heels of documented incidents nationwide of staff members posting pictures on social media of nursing home residents, who were often naked, in embarrassing conditions, or even deceased, or being abused in some manner. Since 2012, there have been at least 47 instances of social media abuse of residents by nursing home and assisted living facility workers.

The memo advises that not only should all facilities have specific policies in place, but they also should have procedures by which managers can swiftly investigate and discipline workers who abuse the relevant policies. The goal of the new policies should be to treat all residents with respect and dignity, and allow them to live out the remainder of their lives without being dehumanized on social media. Those nursing homes who fail to comply with the recommendations in the CMS memo could be subject to citation, fines, and even termination from the Medicare program.

Furthermore, Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on other federal agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights, to take steps to resolve this problem. He also contacted social media outlets in hopes of generating additional coverage of this important issue.

Individuals who suffer injuries at the hands of the healthcare providers who are supposed to care for them may have valid legal claims for damages under Wisconsin law. The Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys of Boller & Vaughan know how to stand up for the rights of those who have been injured, and how to hold nursing homes and other healthcare facilities financially responsible for their actions. Call us today at (608) 268-0268 and set up an appointment for us to assist you with your legal needs.