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Nurse Aid Charged with Felony for Photographing Nude Patient

Today we have a disturbing story about the intersections between social media and nursing home abuse. An employee at a nursing home was arrested for using her phone to take a mostly-nude video of a 93-year-old Alzheimer’s patient and posting it on Snapchat. She has been charged with a felony for her crime.

Snapchat is often used for illicit photography because photos and images are supposed to get deleted soon after the intended viewer sees them. Videos can be viewed for up to 24 hours. Someone who saw the video tipped off the nursing home, and the nursing home reported it to the police which lead to the arrest.

ProPublica investigated the issue of sharing inappropriate videos or pictures of patients on social media and found at least 36 cases since 2012. Some of the shared content involved verbal or physical abuse, and often happened with people who were unable to give consent due to mental disability.

You would think violations like this would also fall under HIPAA, the law the regulates patient confidentiality, but the agency in charge of HIPAA enforcement has never penalized a facility for privacy violations using social media, and has no guidelines about the issue. However, CMS, which oversees nursing homes but does not enforce HIPAA, is in the process of writing new definitions of abuse and updating their rules to cover social media violations.

Social media has opened up entirely new avenues of abuse in a wide range of circumstances, many of which haven’t been legislated upon. Yet they still cause damage. Bottar Leone is ready to help you if you believe your elderly loved one has been the victim of social media shaming or any other form of elder abuse. Call our offices for a free consultation. We serve the Syracuse, NY area.