Social media sharing, privacy rights, and assisted living facilities — what you and your loved one need to know

Planning a holiday visit to a loved one or friend living in a nursing or assisted living home?

You certainly want to walk in and find your loved one happy, safe, clean, and being well-cared for.   Your visit should not raise any red flags.

What you don’t want to see is the staff loitering in the halls on their cell phones.

Worse yet, you don’t want to discover your loved one’s care was neglected because the staff was busy posting to Facebook or Instagram when they should have been providing care.

Privacy and safety in a hospital or nursing home is a basic human right.

Yet these issues continue to be an ongoing battle for patients and their loved ones.

Imagine how you would feel if you found out that your loved one‘s photo had been shared on Snapchat or another social media network by a nursing home worker? Even worse — what  if the worker was mocking your loved one with the photo?

Seem unbelievable? In a December 2015 article, ProPublica cited at least 35 instances of unauthorized social media photo and video postings of residents at nursing homes. Many of these posts were vulgar and dehumanizing.

Since Snapchat photos are deleted after a few seconds,  it is highly likely that there are many more undocumented illegal photos being shared.

Dignity and respect for human life at all stages is a fundamental of civilized society.

Let’s get real.  Take a look back in history at an uncivilized society. REAL photos exist of the abuses of people in the Nazi concentration camps. The pictures aren’t pretty!  

Do we want to allow ourselves to get so callous? Do we want to pay nursing home facilities and hospitals to shred the dignity (even secretly) of those we love?

We also cherish our rights to freedom of speech and press. But these freedoms were never meant to be used to trample on the rights of others.

Social media is not going away.  However, there already are laws in place to help protect against social media nursing home abuse.  Let’s just talk about one.

Around 2003 the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act went into effect, also known as the HIPAA law.

Sometimes HIPAA does pose a challenge for loved ones trying to care for their relative.  You need to have carefully worded paperwork in place to get medical information released to you about your loved one. The biggest burden of record-keeping privacy, however, falls on medical facilities and medical professionals.

HIPAA  includes a Privacy Rule that provides privacy and protection for your loved one in a nursing home.

In short, posting nursing home photos of your loved one on ANY type of social media without a strictly followed procedure for permission (especially explicit or demeaning photos)  is a breach of the Privacy Rule under HIPAA laws. It’s a crime!  If you suspect this is going on, call your assisted living abuse attorney right away.

Are you concerned that a loved one might be experiencing nursing home abuse of any type?  You need an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to help you understand your rights and to help protect your loved one from harm.

Call The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC  TODAY for a free initial consultation. 636-244-3737

This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.