Should Security Cameras be Placed in Nursing Home Residents’ Rooms?

May 19th, 2016 by Attorney Roger Weinberg

Few of us would want to be on camera all day, every day, but having surveillance cameras in a nursing home resident’s room would discourage neglect and abuse and if something happens it would be easier to establish who’s responsible. This idea shows how desperate the situation has become.

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General’s office reported in 2014 that 85% of nursing facilities reported at least one allegation of abuse or neglect to the agency in 2012. It estimated that about 60,000 allegations involved staff abusing or neglecting residents, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
  • The federal General Accounting Office (GAO) reports 25% of nursing homes have deficiencies that either harm residents or have the potential for serious injury or death to residents. Even if nursing homes are penalized for deficiencies, improvements are often temporary, according to the GAO.

Because of increasing demands by families to have cameras installed in nursing homes, the Maryland Legislature established a pilot program on video camera use at three nursing homes. The program was to look at the benefits to the resident and family as well as the effect on facility staff. The sociology department at the University of Maryland is assisted in the effort. After the program a report by the state Department of Health & Mental Hygiene’s Office of Health Care Quality was released in December 2003. According to that office, this guidance hasn’t been updated since.

The publication is meant to give guidance to nursing homes who allow security cameras in rooms at residents’ or families’ requests. The document raises many important questions that come with use of these cameras, including the issues of consent, privacy and how recordings should be handled.

Some of the suggestions are:

  • A resident or his or her legally authorized representative who wants to install a camera must obtain written, signed consent of other residents in the room prior to commencing electronic monitoring.
  • If a camera is placed in the room, the facility must post and maintain a conspicuous notice at the entrance to the room, stating that an electronic monitoring device is in the room. Notice shall be given to staff and to the State when electronic monitoring is conducted.
  • The nursing home and the family would need to decide who would pay for the equipment and monitoring.
  • Cameras should be visible, unable to move and located in an area that’s safe for the resident, employees and visitors.
  • The facility should decide who would be the custodian of recordings. If the facility takes that responsibility, recordings would be considered part of the resident’s medical files.

If a video camera is used, only video should be recorded — an audio recording would violate the state’s wiretapping law.

There are many potential issues that come with camera use in the room of a nursing home resident. If you want the camera because you or a loved one has suffered an injury because you think a Maryland nursing home committed neglect or abuse, we can help you address the situation and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 410-825-3161 today to schedule a free consultation.

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