Recently questions have been raised as to whether or not it is appropriate for long-term care providers to take photos of resident injuries. During a recent American Association of Directors of Nursing Services meeting, it was brought to the attention of attendees that many long-term care providers discourage employees from taking pictures of injuries sustained by residents. This got us thinking – why would SNFs want to avoid having photographic evidence of resident injuries on hand? It seems as though photographs could be instrumental in uncovering what took place and what type of injuries a resident incurred. As the overall goal of any SNF should be to provide excellent care and attention to all residents, we should encourage caretakers to document any injuries and abuse.
There are many considerations when discussing whether or not photographs should be allowed in SNF settings, but those who are advocating for this practice in nursing homes often point to the fact that it can help protect the facility from claims of malfeasance. In the event a resident slips and falls, resulting in areas of bruising, it may be a good idea for a caretaker to take pictures of the injuries and document the incident. In some cases, bruises can appear worse after several days, leading to questions and concerns on the part of the resident’s family. If a nursing home has taken a proactive approach to any type of resident accident or injury, they will be able to show the family members their record of the incident, including pictures.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, falls happen quite often in nursing homes and it is important facilities take proper actions to protect themselves. Photos can make it clear what happened, protecting a facility and its workers from a potential lawsuit or any questions as to the quality of care they are providing. It is generally recommended that SNFs have a designated camera or cell phone on hand to be used for documenting injuries and accidents. If possible, make sure your staff does not use their own personal cell phone to take pictures of resident injuries.
While many SNFs have a procedure in place for documenting resident injuries and accidents, they often do not include visual evidence. In some instances, a written report may not be sufficient. We encourage you to discuss the idea of photographing resident injuries, accidents, or abuse with your staff and come up with ways to improve documentation and include photographs.
We would love to hear your opinion on the topic – should SNFs be required to photograph resident injuries, or should it be up to each facility’s discretion?