Nursing home victims suffer emotional abuse from employees

Scandalous reports continue to emerge in Pennsylvania and other states regarding the alleged social media abuse perpetrated against patients by unethical nursing home employees. The owners of these institutions are responsible for the actions of their employees or agents performed while acting within the scope of their employment. It is unthinkable and intolerable for institutions to fail to discover and eradicate social media emotional abuse and harassment of helpless elderly patients.

These displays include such unthinkable abuses as Alzheimer's patients covered in feces, patients in wheelchairs being badgered and pushed for the humorous entertainment of Snapchat buddies. The photos include naked and dead patients. The criminal actors who are putting these spectacles together and then posting them are the so-called nurse's aides, nursing assistants, caretakers and other employees of the residential institutions.

The victim and his or her family have a claim for tortious infliction of abuse against the nursing homes or assisted living centers. A tort action for invasion of privacy may be considered. Where physical abuse is inflicted, civil assaults and even false imprisonment may be selected to highlight the lawsuits. Where there are state laws protecting the rights of patients and their families, the elder law attorney familiar with abuse claims will construct the lawsuit to include all of the strongest claims.

The abuse sometimes turns physical, which adds to the extent and nature of damages that are compensable by the defendants. Plaintiffs should not forget, additionally, that rich and powerful websites like Snapchat are not immune from responsibility for allowing the publication of such obviously malicious and callous material. Tort claims should be filed against the social media websites entertaining this material.

Pennsylvania citizens are overwhelmingly sympathetic to the elderly victims who are being subjected to such horrific physical and emotional abuse. Wherever possible, the family of an abused victim should consult with an attorney who handles such claims. The consultation is generally free, but the amount of information and the choices for one's elderly loved one will be very valuable to family members going forward.

Source: nakedsecurity.sophos.com, "Feds move to stop social media mockery of nursing home residents", Lisa Vaas, Aug. 11, 2016

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