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Can Nursing Home Abuse Happen Online?

Elderly womanWith the growing adaptation of new social technology, new challenges are introduced. One such concern that has emerged is the potential for nursing home abuse to occur online.

Nursing homes, which provide care and support for our elderly loved ones, now face the complex task of safeguarding residents not only in physical spaces but also in the virtual realm. Fortunately, you can take legal action and get justice for your loved one in the event of nursing home abuse, whether online or physical. Our team at Dalli & Marino, LLP can help.

How Does Online Nursing Home Abuse Happen?

A report by ProPublica details 47 incidents in which nursing home workers shared embarrassing and dehumanizing photos or videos of residents on social media networks. A number of these incidents involve nudity and physical abuse. Although these actions were in violation of patients’ privacy protections as stipulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), only a few of those accused have faced criminal charges.

Online nursing home abuse can take various forms:

  • Emotional Manipulation: Seniors may be targeted by scammers who use emotional manipulation to extort money or personal information. These scams often involve fake identities, romantic interests, or desperate requests for money.
  • Privacy Invasion: Sharing personal information or images without consent can lead to humiliation, emotional distress, and even blackmail.
  • Cyberbullying: Just like in other online spaces, seniors can become victims of cyberbullying, where they experience harassment, intimidation, or ridicule from others.
  • Healthcare Fraud: Unscrupulous individuals may pose as healthcare providers to extract sensitive medical or insurance information from seniors, potentially leading to identity theft or fraudulent medical billing.

To add salt to the wound, elders with cognitive impairments such as dementia or Alzheimer’s may be unaware of what is happening. It can also be difficult for nursing home managers and supervisors to monitor all their employees’ social media activity. As a result, many of these violations can go unreported and unpunished.

Prevention and Intervention for Online Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing homes are legally obligated to protect their residents from online abuse, just as they do from physical abuse. Some of the strategies nursing care facilities can take to mitigate the risk of online nursing home abuse:

  • Education: Seniors should receive training on online safety, privacy settings, and recognizing scams. You can educate your elderly loved ones about the potential risks of online platforms.
  • Technology Guidelines: Nursing homes should establish clear guidelines for using personal devices, including rules about sharing personal information and interacting with others online.
  • Monitoring: Regularly monitoring seniors’ online activities (with their consent) can help identify any suspicious behavior or interactions that might indicate abuse.
  • Open Communication: Fostering open dialogues between staff, residents, and their families can create an environment where concerns related to online abuse can be reported and addressed promptly.

As a New York resident, you have specific legal protections and avenues for addressing online nursing home abuse:

  • Elder Abuse Laws: New York has comprehensive elder abuse laws encompassing various forms of mistreatment, including online abuse.
  • Resident’s Rights: Nursing home residents have rights, both morally and legally, to be treated with dignity, respect, and freedom from abuse.
  • Data Privacy Regulations: If personal information is improperly shared or misused online, it can violate data privacy regulations. New York’s data protection laws can come into play in such cases.

Take action whenever you realize any form of elder abuse by contacting a New York nursing home abuse lawyer to learn about your legal options.

Contact Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Dalli & Marino, LLP

As people’s engagement on social media skyrockets, social media platforms need to put in more effort to keep a check on users’ actions. Addressing online nursing home abuse is a genuine concern that demands united action and dedicated watchfulness.

At Dalli & Marino, LLP, our attorneys boast a strong history of successful litigation against facilities that allow nursing home abuse, as well as cases involving neglect, injury, and other forms of abuse. To discuss your elder abuse case with our attorneys, contact us at (888) 465-8790 to schedule a free case evaluation. Our team also speaks Spanish.


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