South Carolina is joining a group of states in a recent trend regarding legislation addressing hidden cameras. Sometimes referred to as “granny cams,” devices are placed inside nursing homes, and are designed to capture potential abuse of residents.
The legislation, such as in other states, was inspired by at least one reported instance of nursing home abuse being captured on hidden camera. A woman contacted a private investigator about placing a video camera in a nursing home, due to her suspicions that her 101-year-old grandfather was being abused, but because he was so frail, the man couldn’t talk about it. After consulting with attorneys regarding potential privacy concerns, the private investigator placed the small camera next to the resident’s bed, at such an angle so as to limit the capturing of his roommate. There was also no sound recording, so as to limit the potential recording of private conversations.
The footage allegedly depicted a nursing home worker hitting and taunting the elderly man as he lay in bed. The employee was later arrested.
The case inspired a South Carolina state senator to introduce a bill addressing families’ rights to use electronic surveillance to monitor the care of their loved ones.
The measure would require state-licensed facilities to inform residents and their relatives of the ability to use an electronic recording device. The bill would only require permission from the resident featured, or their legal representative. A roommate’s permission would not be necessary, which raises potential privacy concerns.
The bill also carries criminal penalties (misdemeanor and felony) and fines for retaliation against residents, or tampering with a device. Additionally pertinent, the bill makes the video admissible as evidence for civil and criminal court proceedings. Legislators are still working to address privacy concerns, such as capturing other residents and potentially prohibiting audio recordings, since they may capture private conversations unnecessarily.
South Carolina’s proposal sounds much more favorable to those who need its protection than the version proposed in Oklahoma. The fact that it attaches penalties for retaliation and tampering at least encourages nursing home staff to treat those in their care with respect. By requiring the nursing homes to inform residents and their families that they may be used, perhaps the individuals who might commit the abuses that have been recorded will stop themselves due to the increased risk of being caught.
If you believe that your loved one or an elderly friend in the Maryland or the Washington D.C. areas has suffered injury or death as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the knowledgeable nursing home negligence and abuse attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen right away. Our firm has many years of experience representing people from across Maryland in securing compensation for injuries, and in some cases wrongful death, caused as a result of nursing home neglect or abuse. Contact our office today in order to set up your free and confidential initial consultation. You can reach us by calling (800) 654-1949 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Fire Drill in Nursing Home Leads to Wrongful Death Suit, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published May 10, 2013
Department of Health Substantiates Claims of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published May 6, 2013