Personal Injury Attorney
Nursing home abuse in the US is rife. It is considered to be one of the cruelest forms of victimization that can happen while under the care of another party. Sadly, because of the elders’ vulnerability, and their complete dependence on a caretaker, abuse in a nursing home is common and often goes unreported.
Is it legal to install a surveillance camera in a resident’s room of a nursing home?
Nursing home abuse cases are unique from other personal injury cases, particularly because family members are not present every day to observe their loved one and how they may be treated. This makes it very important to retain an experienced nursing home lawyer who will know how to gather evidence apart from the family and the elder.
Some family members are attempting to utilize a DIY method to ensure their elders are being cared for. This method is the use of video or surveillance cameras, and the footage can act as a powerful form of protection.
Only recently, footage from a camera of a 94 year old nursing home resident’s room, showed horrible abuse from an aide and assistants. Other footage shows nurses ignoring a patient after their breathing tube fell out. And one piece of footage recorded the tragic death of a veteran who lost his life in a New York nursing home while staff were caught laughing on video as he needed urgent help.
The Legal Issue with Installing Surveillance Cameras in Nursing Homes
Installing cameras in a nursing home is a bit of a legal grey area. If you ask some people, they will tell you that federal law prohibits it even if the family and resident consents. Others will say that it depends on the state and the nursing home facility.
At this time, nursing homes are taking advantage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This act is a privacy law for patients that is intended to prevent medical records from being accessed by the wrong person. However, HIPAA is being used as a tool to make it more difficult for family and elder resident’s to get solid proof that abuse or neglect has occurred.
Does the State Allow Surveillance Cameras in Nursing Homes?
HIPAA does not prevent the use of video cameras in nursing homes, as long as the camera was owned and installed by the family members and/or resident. However, this rule does not mean that a nursing home will allow them.
At this time, 8 states have created legislation that explicitly allows residents to install cameras in their room. Other states are taking affirmative action to follow suit. If the state does not have a law that allows cameras, the resident or their family can ask the nursing home. In general, if the nursing home denies this, it is considered to be a red flag in that something is going on (not necessarily abuse). It is also possible that a facility will deny the use of cameras because they have concerns about the privacy of other patients. If you are granted or denied permission, be sure to ask for this in writing.
The nursing home industry is resisting the legal changes to allowing surveillance cameras in residents rooms. Lobbyists of the industry consistently cite HIPAA and privacy violations on part of roommates, their Furthermore, some legal experts are raising questions about the ability to consent. For example, if a resident has dementia or another cognitive issue and cannot make decisions on their own, are they actually able to consent to the surveillance. In other instances, one roommate consents and the other does not. Before a camera is placed in a room, all those living inside, and also the staff of the facility, would need to consent.
Some families have installed their own cameras without the consent of staff. It is possible to face consequences when doing so. Furthermore, anything that is obtained through this method could be dismissed as evidence.
Do You Believe Your Elderly Loved One is Being Neglected or Abused in a Home?
If you believe abuse or neglect is going on, or you would like to know more about the surveillance laws, call a nursing home lawyer Charlottesville, VA trusts right now.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at MartinWren, P.C. for their knowledge about nursing home law and abuse.