Could you be cited under F-223 for a social media issue?

Did that get your attention? We thought so. No one wants a citation related to abuse, and while we already have multiple forms of abuse to worry about in our nursing homes – sexual, physical, mental and so on – there’s another area where you could have exposure for abuse: Social Media. In March, after several unfortunate incidents involving nursing home staff, their phone cameras, and residents, we wrote a post about Social Media. In that post, we noted that many facilities may not be aware of what their employees are doing on social media, which could mean abuse and dignity violations for their facilities. The AHCA/NCAL issued guidance on June 10, 2016 to help nursing facilities and assisted living communities with understanding social media as it relates to their businesses and residents. There are some excellent points in this guidance that providers should take the time to review, including:

  • Social Media policies should define what employees can and cannot do on social media. Employees should sign an acknowledgement form and receive training on the policy, and they should understand the disciplinary actions related to violations of this policy, just like any other policy.
  • The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) guidance that was issued includes specific examples of unlawful social media policies, some of which AHCA/NCAL has included in this guidance that are worth reviewing, including that it is illegal to encourage employees to use “friendly” tones when conducting online discussions.
  • Providers should ensure that training includes information on HIPAA personal identifiers. The guidance includes a section on Federal Government Enforcement that includes information on how the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) could potentially fine for HIPAA violations.
  • CMS Conditions for Participation include information on reporting and investigation requirements, including for abuse investigations. CMS can impose remedies related to violations, and the Agency is working to improve the consistency of its enforcement methods across the country.

The document also provides information on how to investigate these incidents, as well as some scenarios that a facility could find itself in with methods for responding. View the full guidance here.


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