|Sen. Tom Carper|
In a letter sent Tuesday, March 8, to the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., referenced a ProPublica story from last year that identified about three dozen inappropriate posts by employees of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Some included naked photos and videos of residents, many of whom have dementia.
“This type of abuse is unacceptable and falls short of our moral obligation to the ‘least of these’ in our society,” Carper, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “We all want our loved ones to receive the quality of care and attention they deserve from the professionals to whom we entrust their care.”
The Office for Civil Rights is the agency that enforces the federal patient privacy law known as HIPAA. It can impose both civil and criminal penalties for violations, but it rarely does so, we reported last year.
Carper asked the office how many complaints it has received related to social media use in nursing homes. He asked how many have resulted in civil penalties or a referral to the Department of Justice. And he wanted to know if the office planned to issue guidance to nursing homes on the use of social media and HIPAA, more formally the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Deven McGraw, the office’s deputy director for health information privacy, said in an email Tuesday that the office would reply to the senator’s letter but that “there is nothing I can release to you at this point.” (Continue Reading)
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Senator demands stop to abuse of nursing home residents on social media