Should Illinois require nursing homes to use cameras?

Illinois may soon join states that officially recognize the legal use of cameras to document abuse and neglect in nursing homes. There is not a law that bans the use of hidden recording devices, but facilities may currently resist or oppose the practice. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently proposed a bill that would allow residents and family members to install hidden cameras in patients’ rooms. A Chicago personal injury law firm understands the concern family members feel about placing a loved one in a nursing home.

Oklahoma, Washington, Texas and Maryland are a few of the other states that have passed legislation to this effect. Madigan’s bill acknowledges the growing evidence that many Illinois nursing home residents are the victims of elder abuse, negligence and theft.

Staffing problems

Visitors and other residents are often the perpetrators when residents are sexually assaulted or abused, but nursing home staffing issues contribute to the problem. A Chicago personal injury law firm often sees situations where nursing aides, who are not trained to deal with the issues that attend caring for the elderly, have frequently been caught abusing patients or neglecting their needs.

Understaffed facilities are often unable to monitor the actions of those who enter or reside in the building, leading to a lack of safety for residents. This is especially true in nursing homes that house younger psychiatric patients. Between 2007 and 2010, The Chicago Tribune investigated 86 cases of sexual violence against nursing home residents. Only one case ended in an arrest.

Privacy issues

The lobbying group for the nursing home industry, Health Care Council of Illinois, is not currently taking a stand for or against the proposal. The protection and safety of residents is one of the group’s concerns, but they also express worry over the potential for cameras to compromise the privacy of residents.

The bill does address privacy issues in nursing homes, explicitly requiring the consent of any resident living in the room where a camera is installed. Staff would not be able to access cameras, and residents and families would retain exclusive rights to the cameras and footage. Recordings would be considered admissible evidence in a court case.

Family members and victims of nursing home neglect, abuse, sexual assault or rape should not be afraid to seek to hold the guilty party liable. Compensation may be available for pain and suffering and any medical bills that arise from the damages incurred. Multiple parties may be held accountable. State law allows the facility owner to be held responsible for resident mistreatment, as well as the perpetrator of the harmful event. A Chicago personal injury law firm can provide advice on the best way to proceed.