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Cameras to detect nursing home abuse raise privacy concerns

Federal law does not prohibit the use of surveillance video cameras to oversee elder care, but using them could invade other people's privacy. People in North Carolina considering surveillance equipment to monitor the care of their elderly relatives should not install cameras in secret. Consent is important because nursing home residents and staff members have a right to know that they are being recorded.

Even when a facility grants consent, the surveillance might still violate various laws. It could record private patient health information and thereby break rules established by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. People hoping to collect evidence of elder abuse or deter it might also cross legal lines regarding electronic surveillance. Nursing home staff could resent the video monitoring and retaliate against a vulnerable resident.

Some nursing facilities address surveillance in their contracts. If relatives are allowed to install surveillance, they will have to post signs announcing the recording of video. The cost of buying and installing equipment falls on the relatives of the resident as well.

Suspicions of nursing home neglect typically motivate people to begin electronic monitoring. Consulting an attorney prior to taking this step could be productive. An attorney could offer an opinion about the legality of installing a camera. Additionally, an attorney might aid with the effort to relocate an elderly victim. This might involve making a formal complaint to the facility and gaining a release from a contract. If injuries have already resulted from negligent care, neglect or outright physical abuse, then an attorney could organize evidence for a personal injury lawsuit.

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Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP

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