Although Illinois elder-care patients are often seen smiling alongside their caregivers in pictures and videos posted online by nursing facilities, there may be cases in which a posting results in legal action. In a disturbing incident highlighted by The Chicago Sun-Times, a patient at the Holland Home nursing facility and his family did not experience a positive reaction after he was the subject of a shared social media video. After discovering the video online, the patient’s family filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court on his behalf. The civil action alleges that four of the nursing home’s employees engaged in patient abuse by causing distress to the man and acted in violation of the Nursing Home Care Act. The suit is seeking $50,000 in punitive damages.

The patient is a 76-year-old man diagnosed with dementia. Reportedly, the nursing home’s staff took a live video that was streamed over the internet on Facebook, the world’s largest social media network. The video shows the four employees taunting the patient in his adult diaper and encouraging him to expose himself while live on camera. The employees are also accused of acting abusively toward the patient beyond the single video that was posted for online viewing.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act prohibits doctors, nurses and staff from engaging in any behavior that may be considered as abusive toward a patient. This includes taking photos or videos that may depict physical or mental injury and sexual assault. Any person suspected of violating the Act may be investigated by the authorities, and families with relatives under the care of a nursing facility that employs an abusive person may have grounds for a civil action.