Are Surveillance Cameras the Future of Nursing Home Care?
Posted on behalf of Edwards Law Firm on Sep 09, 2014 in Nursing Home Abuse
On November 1, 2013, Oklahoma passed a law that would permit the use of surveillance cameras in nursing home facilities. The reason was simple residents loved ones want the ability to keep an eye on the patient for their own safety, many suspecting that nursing home abuse had already taken place.
Oklahoma was the third state to pass such a law; now, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is proposing the same.
Madigan has referred to surveillance cameras as the next line of defense in protecting older people. This should give us peace of mind in circumstances when we cant physically go to the nursing home, she said.
Currently, five states allow cameras to record the actions of the resident and their caretaker. Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Maryland and Washington have all passed similar legislation.
The concerns over patient safety versus patient, caretaker and facility privacy rights split the audience on this issue. But, when a case that that of Eryethra Mayberry's is considered, it is difficult to argue against the use of cameras.
In 2012, Mayberry was a resident in an Oklahoma City nursing home. Her daughter fixed a surveillance camera in her room with the intention of discovering why some of Mayberry's personal items had gone missing. What the family found instead was that Mayberry had been abused by caretakers; in one portion of the recording, footage showed Mayberry's caretakers shove a pair of latex gloves in her mouth, taunt her verbally and throw her on the bed to perform what forceful chest compression's.
The outcry over Mayberry's case was part of the catalyst for Oklahoma's passage of Senate Bill 587, which states that any recordings authorized by the nursing home may be used as evidence in any civil or criminal court action or administrative proceeding.
Certainly, the protective measures of these cameras are evident, but some are concerned a patients right to privacy under HIPAA may be breached by their use. Because many patients are unable to provide consent, there is often a representative who consents on their behalf. Families, caretakers and nursing home facilities must consider the potential implications of recording a person against their will.
While Oklahoma law permits the use of cameras, it remains to be seen whether in-room surveillance will catch on as a national standard to ensure quality of care in nursing homes and other assisted living situations.