With incidences of nursing home neglect and abuse coming to light, several states, including Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and, more recently, Illinois, have passed laws allowing families to record resident care, and several other states have started their own surveillance pilots. However, in the absence of a state law in Iowa, residents and families can only use them if a nursing home administrator allows it.
Because most nursing homes in the state are privately owned businesses, there are legal barriers when it comes to hidden camera surveillance. However, many argue that the state has the right to investigate anything that could constitute patient abuse, neglect or Medicare fraud. A “covert search” via video recording devices should be included in that right if permission has been obtained from all residents and/or guardians where cameras record resident care activities.
Just last year, Illinois joined the ranks of states that allow families to install cameras in nursing home rooms. The legislation includes specifications for video, audio and still cameras in resident’s rooms and requires facilities to obtain consent from roommates if the installation of a camera is desired. Nursing homes must post signs notifying residents and visitors that rooms may be monitored so no one is caught off guard, eliminating privacy issues that many raise in opposition to camera surveillance in the first place.
Those who have family members receiving nursing home care are hoping to see Iowa come around too. Allowing nursing home residents to possess cameras offers a measure of protection for residents and provides families with peace of mind. After all, a resident’s room is essentially their home and whether they have cameras or not should not be decided by the facility. Many believe that state law should guarantee the right for residents and their families to make this important decision or better yet, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, who pay the bills for roughly 50 to 60 percent of the 1.4 million nursing home residents across the country, should clarify a nursing home residents right to have a camera in their room.
If you or a family member has been neglected or abused in an Iowa nursing home, contact Des Moines nursing home abuse attorney John T. Hemminger. At Hemminger Law Firm, we provide personalized, focused, dedicated legal service. To schedule a confidential, free initial consultation, call us today at 515-283-2116 or contact our offices online.
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