In a disgusting and very disturbing case of nursing home abuse caught on camera, two Oklahoma nursing home caregivers responsible for the care of a 96-year-old resident were allegedly caught on video abusing the woman: one was seen hitting the woman in the face with rubber gloves and placing the gloves in the woman’s mouth while the other stood idly by without intervening to stop the abuse or to protect the elderly resident. Both women have been arrested as a result of the alleged abuse.
The woman’s family suspected that someone was stealing from their relative. They placed a hidden camera in the resident’s nursing home room, believing that they may catch a thief. Instead, they were horrified to see on video the two nursing home employees abusing the helpless woman.
The nursing home said through a representative that it was shocked to find out about the alleged abusive incident. The same nursing home had been cited the month before for failing to do a required background check on one of its nursing aides.
Federal statistics from the General Accounting Office indicate that more than one in four nursing homes in the United States have deficiencies so bad that they cause actual harm to their residents or pose a risk of serious injury or death for their residents. Many of the nursing homes that were cited for deficiencies make temporary changes that are often not in effect the next time the nursing homes are subject to an inspection, re-inspection, or survey.
A Case Study: An Unsuccessful Effort To Allow Cameras In Maryland Nursing Homes
A bill introduced in the Maryland Legislature in 2009 (HB557) that was not enacted into law would have permitted nursing home residents with the right to place video cameras in their nursing home rooms to detect and prevent abuse. The preamble to the bill stated its purpose and summarized its intent as follows:
FOR the purpose of creating an exception to the prohibition against willfully intercepting a wire or electronic communication for a person who intercepts wire, oral, or electronic communications in a related institution under certain circumstances; requiring a related institution to allow a resident or a resident’s legal representative to monitor the resident through the use of video cameras or other electronic monitoring devices; requiring a resident who shares a room with another resident to obtain written consent before beginning electronic monitoring; requiring the related institution to provide power sources and mounting space to set up electronic monitoring devices; prohibiting a related institution from refusing to admit an individual to the related institution or removing a resident from the related institution because of a request to install an electronic monitoring device; prohibiting electronic monitoring from being conducted in the bathroom of a resident; establishing certain penalties for violators; requiring that tapes created from electronic monitoring be admissible in criminal and civil actions brought in Maryland courts, subject to the Maryland Rules of Evidence; requiring that certain tapes and recordings created from electronic monitoring be made available to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for a certain purpose; and generally relating to electronic monitoring in related institutions.
HB557 from the 2009 Maryland Legislative Session was re-introduced during the 2010 Maryland Legislative Session as HB1019, but was never enacted into law.
While it may be legal in Oklahoma and some other states to place cameras in nursing home residents’ rooms, other states forbid the placement and use of such cameras. In light of the recent incident in an Oklahoma nursing home, and similar incidents in nursing homes throughout the United States, we urge the state legislatures in those U.S. states that do not permit nursing home cameras in residents’ rooms to re-consider their positions and to enact laws that allow the use of cameras that are intended to detect and prevent nursing home abuse (that is, act as a deterrent to possible abuse) that affects some of the most vulnerable and captive victims of abuse (that is, the elderly and other residents of nursing homes), and to insure that nursing home residents are receiving the required level of care and attention.
If you suspect that someone you know has become the victim of nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect, the advice from a medical malpractice attorney may help you learn about your rights and responsibilities with regard to the situation and to assist you in enforcing those rights.
Click here to visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to investigate your possible claim against a nursing home for nursing home abuse or nursing home negligence and to file a claim on your behalf, if appropriate. You may us reach us by toll free call to 800-295-3959.
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