Each year, the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Nursing Home Hotline receives approximately 19,000 calls and more than 5,000 complaints alleging incidences of nursing home negligence or abuse. Considering the state is home to only 1,200 long-term care facilities, these numbers are staggering.
In August 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation that guarantees the right of nursing home patients and their families to install and maintain video cameras in patients’ rooms. Illinois is one of just six states with laws that explicitly permit “senior cams”—as they have come to be known—in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These types of cameras are intended to reduce and eliminate nursing home abuse, but they are also being used to hold facilities responsible when abuse and neglect occur. Recently, a tragic situation in Florida—a state that currently has no law regarding senior cams—was caught on video and exposed to the public.
Disturbing Footage Captured on Hidden Camera
This fall, local news outlets obtained video footage taken from inside a Pompano Beach nursing home. The camera was hidden in a patient’s room by the patient’s daughter. She was concerned that her 94-year-old father was being mistreated. The man suffered from dementia and was unable to speak. According to news reports, the video showed nursing home staff members “forcefully trying to get the man off the bed,” hitting him in the head, and “dousing him with mouthwash.”
An attorney for the patient’s family said that mouthwash contains alcohol, which can contribute to bedsores and ulcers on a patient’s dried-out skin. The lawyer went on to say that the patient eventually died from stage three ulcers and that he is representing the man’s family in legal action against the facility.
Cases such as this one have sparked a debate in Florida about enacting laws similar to those in Illinois. Many believe that explicitly permitting cameras would put facilities on notice that abuse and neglect will not be tolerated. Officials in the nursing home industry claim that allowing senior cams in patient rooms could be complicated, especially when roommates are involved.
The Camera Law in Illinois
The relevant law in Illinois addresses the rights of roommates, as well as the required notification when a camera is installed. Cameras may be installed and maintained at the expense of the patient and/or the family; the facility is not responsible for the associated costs. The cameras may not be hidden and signs must be posted to announce that rooms may be electronically monitored. Everyone living in a monitored room must consent to the camera being used, and if a roommate objects to a patient’s desire for a camera, the facility must attempt to move the resident wanting a camera to a different room. The law also explicitly permits footage from such cameras to be used in court.
Concerns About Nursing Home Abuse?
If your loved one is presently residing in a nursing home and you are concerned about his or her safety, contact an experienced Chicago nursing home abuse attorney. Call 312-535-4625 for a confidential consultation with Schwartz Injury Law today.