Breaking Compliance News Blog

Nursing home sued after aides taunt resident on Snapchat

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 8/22/19 7:37 AM

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Two nursing home certified nurse aides were fired and charged with disorderly conduct after filming a 91-year old resident in distress and posting the video to Snapchat. 

The two aides allegedly took a video recording of the resident in distress, while they waved a gown in her face - and the resident tried to push it away. The video caption read: "[Resident name] hates gowns," and was accompanied by laughing/crying emojis. Staff at the nursing home were aware that this resident did not care for hospital gowns.

Upon investigation, the Illinois Department of Health found that the nursing home “failed to implement its ‘Abuse Prevention Policy’ by failing to ensure that a resident is free from staff-inflicted emotional abuse," which caused the resident to experience "degradation and shame."

The resident's daughter is now suing the nursing home for violating the Nursing Home Care Act, HIPAA, and Illinois privacy laws, and seeks more than $1 million.

Demeaning photos and videos are abuse

Humiliating or demeaning photos or videos of nursing home residents are mental abuse - and surveyors are looking to see if nursing homes protect residents from this type of this abuse.

mental abuse snipCMS outlines the steps nursing homes must take to prevent this type of mental abuse

  • Implement policies and procedures prohibiting abuse. These policies need to address mental abuse arising from demeaning or humiliating pictures or recordings.

  • Train staff on mental abuse arising from these pictures or recordings.

  • Take training one step further and “provide ongoing oversight and supervision of staff in order to assure that these policies are implemented as written.”

  • Treat these incidents of mental abuse as any other abuse allegation: with investigation and reporting.


What else you can do

Social media use in nursing homes – and other providers – is a rampant HIPAA headline. Train staff that photos or videos of residents violate HIPAA; and, time on phones can lead to lapses in care.Then, train some more: post flyers, share helpful reminders at shift-change, and use HIPAA walk-throughs to remind people about your cell phone policy.

cdn2.hubspot.nethubfs378557hipaa handbooks abuse by smartphone snip 

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Topics: HIPAA, abuse, skilled nursing

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