Provider's social media penalty halved

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Although long-term care officials agree photos and videos of residents should not be taken or posted to social media without consent, some operators are pushing back.

Lone Tree Health Care Center in Lone Tree, IA, recently had a $68,000 fine halved and Immediate Jeopardy citation downgraded after administrators balked. 

The case began when the provider allegedly did not conduct a timely investigation into photos of a resident being posted to Snapchat or separate the alleged abusers from residents, authorities said. 

Lone Tree Administrator Chris Wolf told ProPublica the fine was too high and neither she and her staff nor authorities had seen the photos — nor likely ever will because Snapchat photos typically expire after 10 seconds.

Wolf said staff received training and were told to leave their phones at home or in their cars. Three aides were disciplined in the incident.

ProPublica said it found 18 similar incidents involving unauthorized photos this year.

Last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services directed surveyors to start checking whether facilities have policies covering residents' photos.