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Granny Cam - Surveillance in Nursing Homes

By Josh Silverman on July 02, 2013


An unsettled area of law is whether it is legal for a family member to set up a hidden camera in a nursing home patient's room to monitor for abuse and neglect.  The issue intersects the importance and difficulty of catching nursing home abuse with the rights of the patient to privacy as well as the privacy rights of others particularly roommates and guests.  It's an unsettled area of law because there is no federal law keeping a nursing home from establishing a rule against such cameras and there are statutes that restrict the filming of people (particularly in private moments like dressing and toileting).  In Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico it is legal for family members to install hidden cameras.  In other states it is less clear.

For the first time to my knowledge a state has acknowledged using hidden cameras to monitor nursing home employees.  After monitoring a Zanesville, Ohio nursing home the government has moved to shut it down. The Ohio Attorney General's office has stated that it will expand the use of hidden cameras.  For more information, here's a link to a recent news story: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/07/01/spying-on-employees-at-issue.html 

Reasonable minds can differ, but in my opinion a minor loss of privacy is worth it to save nursing home patients from abuse and neglect that may otherwise go undetected.

 

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