After Nursing Home Abuses Exposed on Hidden Cameras, States Move to Legalize “Granny Cams”

After a string of hidden cameras caught nursing home staff members neglecting and abusing their residents, several states are weighing the legality of allowing surveillance cameras in elder care facilities. The nationwide push for video cameras comes after several deeply disturbing incidents of elder abuse were caught on secret video cameras set up by families concerned about their loved one. The videos have led to widespread moral outrage and now, according to a survey by Care Protect, almost 93 percent of Americans are in favor of using video monitoring to safeguard nursing home patients.

The video footage that has emerged over the last year showed several nursing homes, in different parts of the country, engaging in barbaric and criminal behavior towards the senior citizens they have been charged with protecting. In North Carolina, a video shows nursing home staffers cruelly taunting and blaming an elderly man who had fallen on the floor and could not get up. In Michigan, video footage secretly obtained by an 89-year-old man’s family show the nursing home staff “yelling at and roughly throwing the patient onto his bed and wheelchair,” according to Becker’s Hospital Review. In Atlanta, Georgia, a hidden camera showed an 89-year-old veteran calling for help six times while gasping for air until he finally became unconscious and passed away. The entire time the nursing home staff stood by and laughed at the man.

Given the appalling treatment of these senior citizens, Americans are understandably concerned about how their loved ones are being treated. While nursing homes worry about the privacy implications of recording their facility’s every move on videotape, Americans are prioritizing the safety of their loved ones. In response to the outcry, state officials are moving quickly to legalize the use of surveillance cameras in nursing homes, according to NBC News. In Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington, statutes already permit the use of electronic monitoring devices in nursing homes across the state, as long as any roommate gives permission. Maryland took a lighter and likely ineffective approach by requiring any electronic surveillance to receive explicit permission from the nursing home. New Jersey and Wisconsin have adopted a novel approach to the problem, by loaning out video cameras disguised as everyday objects to its citizens concerned about their loved ones.

Currently, New York does not have a law that explicitly permits electronic surveillance at nursing homes. Therefore, the traditional rules on videotaping apply in New York which allows any person to be recorded “as long as they do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.” For that reason, nursing homes in the Empire State will likely require the family to post a notice on the loved one’s door and receive permission from any roommates who may be filmed. Given the complexity and intersectionality of New York laws in this area, it is recommended that anyone who suspects elder abuse contact a reputable nursing home abuse attorney to learn more about the options that may be available.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents.  Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.

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