Balancing Privacy and Protection: The Debate on Video Surveillance in Nursing Homes

The integration of video surveillance in nursing homes is a subject that could stir significant debate in the USA. Virginia nursing home attorney Jeffrey Downey highlights a proposed bill that, while considered beneficial for resident safety, faces anticipated pushback from the healthcare industry primarily due to concerns over privacy infringement.

What The Proposed Bill Could Seem Like

The bill in question could seek to authorize video surveillance in nursing home facilities. It aims to offer an additional layer of protection for residents by allowing their families and caregivers to monitor their well-being remotely.

However, introducing surveillance raises questions about residents’ privacy rights, prompting a complex dialogue between various stakeholders.

Legislation on Surveillance in Nursing Homes

Louisiana has enacted legislation permitting individuals in nursing homes and their relatives to install video surveillance equipment within their living spaces.

It is required that the nursing home be notified about the installation, along with details regarding the device’s purpose, functionality, and operation. The legislation mandates that any device used for visual surveillance must also log the date and time of the recordings captured.

Two years prior, New Jersey initiated the “Safe Care Cam” initiative, enabling family members to lease surveillance cameras for use in nursing homes and facilities catering to adults with developmental disabilities and other types of institutional care environments.

Moreover, states such as Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas have explicitly authorized video and electronic surveillance within nursing homes and similar facilities. Washington state has also established regulations overseeing audio and video surveillance in such settings.

Notably, Texas does not require consent from the resident or their legal representative to install surveillance equipment, applying exclusively to state-operated living centers rather than privately-owned facilities.

If you have an elderly loved one who resides in a nursing home and wants a surveillance camera installed in their private room, you want first to seek legal counsel from a Virginia nursing home attorney.

The Core Debate of Privacy vs. Protection

If a new video surveillance bill is introduced to enhance the Act mentioned above, healthcare providers could argue that continuous surveillance could infringe upon the personal privacy of residents.

In return, this could create a feeling of constant observation and discomfort. On the other side of the argument, advocates for the bill, including Downey, assert that video surveillance serves as a crucial tool in preventing abuse and neglect, thereby enhancing resident safety.

Nursing homes do not always create accurate or thorough records, explains Downey. For example, if a residents is ringing his call bell and being ignored, he/she may get up to toilet when its not safe to do so. The nursing home might document that they found the resident on the floor, but the fact that the resident was ringing for help for hours before the event will not be documented. The same issue arises with pressure wounds, which require vigilant turning, repositioning and proper hygiene. A video camera would make it very easy to prove that the resident was not being turned or changed after dirtying his/her diaper.

The Role of Consent in Video Surveillance

A proposed solution to the privacy concern involves obtaining explicit
consent from residents or their legal guardians at admission into the facility. This consent would include agreements on video surveillance and assurances that the footage would be securely stored and not distributed publicly.

For the bill to achieve its intended purpose, it could involve setting strict guidelines on how surveillance cameras are used, who has access to the footage, and how consent is obtained and recorded. Future legislative efforts should address these concerns, ensuring that the implementation of surveillance technology in nursing homes serves the best interests of all parties involved.

This bill is a great idea, but will get a lot of pushback from the industry,” Explains Virginia nursing home attorney Jeffrey Downey. The healthcare industry will argue that video will infringe upon the resident’s privacy. “However, an easy fix is to allow the residents to agree to such video surveillance as part of the admissions process and then take action to ensure the video is secure and not distributed to the public.”

I have had situations where families want to put remote cameras in the room to monitor the resident, and the facility refuses, even in private rooms. The legislature should start with a bill that allows private video cameras in rooms if it’s the patient’s camera.

Jeffrey Downey represents victims of nursing home and assisted living abuse and neglect. He practices in the states of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Call or email the office for a free consultation.

If you loved one was a victim of abuse or neglect, or if you have questions about video surveillance, call our office for a free consultation.

Phone: 703-564-8318
On the web at

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