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Illinois and Missouri Consider Requiring Nursing Homes to Allow Cameras

Nursing home abuse and neglect can be one of the most horrifying types of medical malpractice. When our older loved ones reach a stage in their lives when they can no longer care for themselves and around the clock professional care makes the most sense, nursing homes are often the answer. We rely on these facilities to provide the care and treatment our elders deserve. Some facilities do just that, and do it quite well. Others, however, do not live up to the standard of care. The people in these facilities can wind up suffering from bed sores, sepsis, falls, medication errors, clogged breathing tubes, burns, and in some cases even outright abuse. Lawmakers have tried to solve these problems in a variety of ways, and a new proposal is being considered by both Missouri and Illinois lawmakers: requiring nursing homes to allow residents to have cameras in their rooms.

Illinois Considers Putting Cameras in Nursing Homes

The Chicago Tribune reports that a bill recently introduced in the Illinois legislature would allow cameras in nursing home residents’ rooms if (1) the resident wants the camera and (2) the resident pays for the camera. If a resident’s mental condition has deteriorated to the point where he or she is incapable of providing meaningful consent then legal guardians or family members would be allowed to give consent for the cameras. Whether the resident is capable of consent is a question that would be answered by a doctor. As for patients who cannot afford a camera, a fund would be set up to provide financial assistance. The cameras can cost anywhere between $200 and $1000, depending on the features of the camera. The reasoning behind the proposal is simple-if patients are monitored by these cameras then any abuse or neglect would be caught on tape and would be much easier to prove. Family members who live far away from their older relative could check on their well-being at any time. New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington already have similar laws.

Bill Provides Solutions to Privacy Concerns

There are objections to the proposal. Many people in nursing homes share their rooms with roommates, so the privacy interests of the roommate must be taken into account. The bill does that by requiring facilities to house residents who want cameras with other residents who want cameras. Some people raise concerns about staff’s privacy, but privacy in the workplace is fairly limited. Employees in retail establishments, gas stations, warehouses, and banks already work with security cameras in place. Its hard to argue that a staff member has an expectation of privacy in another person’s room and that their expectation of privacy outweighs the resident’s right to use a camera for his or her own safety. As for visitor privacy, the law would require the facilities to post a notice that cameras are in use.

Missouri Considers a Similar Proposal

CBS St. Louis reports that Missouri is considering a similar measure. This proposal comes after a 2013 KMOX News report found that Missouri’s nursing home inspections were filled with allegations of rape, abuse, and neglect of residents. At least one state lawmaker, Rep. Andrew McDaniel, believes this abuse is continuing so he has filed a bill similar to the one in Illinois. It is so far unclear whether Missouri will tackle the privacy concerns in the same way Illinois has proposed they be tackled.

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