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Does taking photos of nursing home residents constitute abuse?

NewsNursing Home Neglect   April 1, 2016

Depending on the nature of the photos, taking pictures of residents without their knowledge — particularly when those photos get shared on social media– could be considered exploitation. In some cases, nursing home workers who have photographed residents and shared the photos online have faced criminal charges.

Part of the issue is about privacy. Taking a picture of someone without their knowledge and then sharing that picture on social media compromises that person’s privacy, and possibly their rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

As pointed out in an article in ProPublica, it’s not always obvious when people take photos of this nature. They may not share them on social media at all, or if they do, they may share photos on Snapchat, where the photos disappear after a few seconds, unless someone manages to do a quick screen grab. Sometimes these cases don’t come to light unless someone on the photo distribution list reports the incident.

Elderly persons are often vulnerable in a number of ways. Some suffer from dementia and have no ability to stop someone from taking a picture or engaging in other sorts of humiliating or abusive treatment. This is not the sort of treatment one would hope for in a facility that is supposed to ensure residents’ safety. Elderly nursing home residents deserve compassion, not abuse. If you suspect or have heard that a nursing home staff member has taken photos of your loved one without permission, speak with a lawyer who has experience with nursing home neglect and abuse cases. You may be able to collect compensation for what you’ve been through.