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Camera Monitoring and Elder Abuse

There has been a recent trend of states passing laws that permit nursing homes to install electronic recording devices in residents’ rooms, if the residents so request. Illinois is the most recent state to enact this type of legislation, along with New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, and California. Other state legislatures are considering similar legislation. The goal of these laws is to monitor nursing home staff in order to ensure that they properly care for nursing home residents. These laws acknowledge the fact that nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect, and it is sometimes difficult or even impossible for residents to report any incidents of abuse and neglect.

The theory behind installing electronic recording devices is that they can document and verify allegations of abuse, as well as exonerate nursing home staff whom residents have wrongfully accused of abuse or neglect. Nonetheless, these laws have sparked in these and other states about issues related to privacy and cost. Other concerns about electronic monitoring have arisen, as well. One study found that caregivers who were subject to electronic recording provided “less organic”, but not necessary worse care. Another possibility is that caregivers might unwittingly provide more care to those residents whose rooms contain electronic recording devices, as opposed to those who don’t.

Another potential drawback to electronic recording devices to monitor staff is the deterioration of trust between management and staff, particularly among those employees who knowingly work in front of the recording devices. Other types of hidden monitoring, such as when management tracks employees’ Internet browsing history and email, have less of a negative effect on the trust between employers and employees.

The much-discussed issue of chronic understaffing also contributes to the environment of mistrust. Employees may feel as if they are being unfairly targeted by their employers for poor care of residents, when they in fact spread so thin that they are unable to properly perform all of their care-related duties. Plus, the reality is that even electronic recording cannot capture every incidence of abuse, particularly when a caregiver uses abusive language or makes gestures that are not visible on camera.

You entrust your loved one to the nursing home so that he or she is properly cared for. When that facility fails to provide your loved one with an even basic level of reasonable care, it is likely that negligence occurred, which may make that facility liable for the resulting injuries. If you find yourself in this situation, you may be entitled to compensation for the losses that you or your family member has suffered. Call our Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys at Boller & Vaughan and learn what we can do for you and your family.