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New Illinois Nursing Home Surveillance Law Could Prevent Abuse

Illinois House Bill 2462, which allows residents of nursing homes or their families to install video surveillance equipment in their private rooms, is now in effect as of January 1, 2016. In an attempt to protect nursing home residents from the common issues of abuse and neglect, Illinois became the sixth U.S. state to pass such a law. New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington have similar laws in place. Maryland allows residents to install cameras upon request, and California allows cameras in common areas, but not resident rooms.

These laws have given rise to controversy between those who want lawmakers to do more to protect the elderly from abuse and neglect occurring nationwide, and those who believe that the increasing level of surveillance on citizens is a threat to personal privacy. Due to the ever-changing technologies of modern life, we are daily forced to consider the delicate balance of safety and security versus privacy.

How the Illinois law will work:

Firstly, consent is required from residents (or their legal representatives) and their roommates for monitoring devices to be installed. The law will protect these residents by prohibiting retaliation from the facility or its employees for the use of the devices. It will also ensure a misdemeanor or felony penalty for any person or entity that intentionally obstructs or destroys a recording/monitoring device.

The cameras and audio equipment must be purchased, installed and maintained by residents or their families. Illinois has put aside seed money to assist residents who cannot afford the cost of a device, if they want one. In resident rooms that have surveillance equipment in place, the facility must post signs notifying visitors those rooms may be monitored.

Pros:

At Hupy and Abraham, we represent clients who have been the victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. In our experience, it can be very difficult to prove abuse or neglect as most residents in nursing homes are already in poor health. Fortunately this law, and similar laws in other states, allows for recordings to be admissible into evidence in cases of suspected abuse or neglect. These monitoring devices can also serve as peace of mind for families looking to ensure their loved ones are receiving care consistent with doctors’ orders and their care plans, and that staff who fail to provide quality care can be identified and punished.

Cons:

As mentioned above, the resident or their legal representative must consent to a monitoring device being placed in their room. So when considering the potential cons for making the decision to install monitoring equipment in a private room, we must note the third right afforded to residents in the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act -- the right to privacy. Nursing home residents have the right to privacy as well as dignity, and may not feel comfortable being monitored on a constant basis.

At this time, most states have no similar legislation in place, and the burden of proving negligence falls upon victims and their families. If you or a loved one resides in a nursing home or long-term care facility in which you suspect abuse or neglect, camera or not, you should take action.

Contact the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Hupy and Abraham with any questions you may have. To schedule a free consultation, call 800-800-5678 or start a live chat anytime at Hupy.com