There has been a growing debate over the use of hidden cameras in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. We have previously written about the movement of certain states to enable nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare provider facilities to use hidden cameras in nursing home rooms and around the buildings. It has not been so much a call for mandatory use as it has been a call for at least permissive use of cameras. The negative that some have pointed out is the inherent invasion of privacy of residents and others.
Yet many would counter that where the use of hidden cameras is permissive, it would be up to the resident and/or their families as to whether they would like to make use of a camera to record what goes on. Another advantage of using cameras would be that where nursing home nurses, aides and staff are aware that there could be a camera in any room or at the turn of any corner, this could act as more of a deterrent to poor behavior, forcing staffers to think twice about their behavior. And of course, where there is abuse or neglect, those cameras will help catch it and hopefully turn it into a complaint and an investigation so that the appropriate parties are punished and that it never happens again. New York is one of the states that have made use of hidden camera footage to catch wrongdoing by staffers and bring both civil action and criminal charges against appropriate parties. While still somewhat rare, the use of camera footage could increase as more successful prosecutions and claims are brought against nursing homes, staffers, administrators and owners.
In more recent news at the Highpoint on Michigan nursing home in upstate New York, hidden cameras caught the appalling behavior of 17 facility employees, or in that case, a lack of behavior as there was a clear “pattern of staff neglect” when it came to a middle aged patient suffering from Huntington’s disease. As the article points out, over the course of a whole month these staffers (about half nurses, half nursing assistants) did not give the patient proper liquids, did not give him his pain medicines, and did not even help him with his issues of incontinence. These staffers simply just would not check on him for certain periods of time.
To add to the mess, these staffers would falsify records to cover up their blatant failure to care for this patient by indicating that medication was given and by signing off that they checked on the patient. Yet the video footage showed them barely even visiting his room, let alone taking care of the important tasks required of them. These tasks were particularly important because as a victim of Huntington’s, the patient was bedridden and completely unable to take care of himself, hence the reason he was in a nursing home. In another example, camera footage at the Erie County Medical Center caught staffers failing to properly care for an Alzheimer’s patient and also falsifying documents to cover that up. In both the Highpoint and Erie situations, the accused workers were also hit with very serious criminal charges.
In these situations the state Attorney General’s office was tipped off with the camera footage. As a result of the evidence the state was able to investigate and eventually bring charges against the participating staffers. The debate may rage on when it comes to using hidden cameras at nursing homes, but with increasingly successful investigations using such evidence, their use could very well pick up some steam.
See Related Blog Posts: