Nursing Home Camera Usage and Abuse

Today’s post is a follow up to a recent blog post discussing how a nursing home company in the United Kingdom plans to install cameras in the private rooms of residents who elect for the camera in their rooms. Our last post on this topic questioned whether the United States would adopt a comparable approach to reduce the incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect by implementing a similar policy. Where does Illinois stand on the issue?

Often the issue of wanting to record what happens in a resident’s room is brought to light by family members of the resident who are concerned that abuse or neglect is occurring in the nursing home. The family members want to install a camera to record who is administering the abuse to their loved one.

Cameras in Nursing Homes In the U.S.

To date, there are only four states that have mandatory surveillance laws in place to protect nursing home residents from abuse and neglect. These states were prompted to action after an instance of severe nursing home abuse was caught on tape. Take for example the abuse of Erytha Mayberry, a 96-year-old resident living in a nursing home facility in Oklahoma. Her family suspected abuse was taking place, so they set up a surveillance camera in Mayberry’s private room. Lo and behold, the tape revealed an episode of severe abuse against Mayberry committed by one of the nursing home aides. The episode of abuse that was recorded ultimately lead to Mayberry’s death a few weeks after the incident.

The tape was released to local news outlets and the public became enraged with how poorly nursing home residents could be treated. In response, the Oklahoma legislature proposed a bill that permits the voluntary installation of surveillance cameras in resident’s private rooms.

Cameras Are Permitted in Illinois Nursing Homes, But No Law Requires Surveillance

While video recorders are permitted to be placed in nursing home residents’ private rooms, there is no law that ensures that the camera is permitted to stay wherever it is placed. Either the resident or the nursing home staff may remove the camera if they so choose. There is no law in Illinois, nor is any such law up for debate, that requires voluntary surveillance if the nursing home resident so chooses to have his or her living space monitored.

There is much resistance in Illinois to adopt such a law as the presence of a camera in a resident’s room raises privacy concerns and HIPAA issues because some of the resident’s medical care is administered in his or her room. Yet other states have figured out ways to make this voluntary surveillance policy integrate with privacy concerns. Perhaps the Illinois legislature could model a nursing home surveillance law for Illinois base on one of the existing state laws?

Contacting a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney

Nothing is more disconcerting than observing what could be construed as signs of physical abuse on a loved one residing in a nursing home. If you suspect that someone you love who lives in an Illinois nursing home is being subjected to physical abuse or neglect, please contact the Rooth Law Firm immediately either online or by phone at (847) 869-9100.

Photo Credit: Nicolas Alejandro Street Photography via Compfight cc