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Legislation May Allow Hidden Cameras To Catch Nursing Home Abuse In Minnesota

Minnesota may soon become the latest state to guarantee families the right to place hidden cameras in the rooms if long-term care facilities to monitor for incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect

On February 6, the Minnesota Senate Committee on Family Care and Aging allowed a so-called “granny cam” bill to pass on to the larger Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. The bill was approved by the committee after the testimony of a number of family members whose relatives had suffered abuse or neglect, according to a report published in the Grand Forks Herald.

The bill, SF 11, was introduced last month by State Senator Karin Housley, of St. Marys Point. It is part of a “No Senior Ignored” initiative, which seeks to reform elder care throughout the state.

If enacted, the new legislation would give family members the right to install secret cameras in relatives’ nursing home rooms, as long as that relative and all residents in that room provide consent. It prohibits retaliation by the nursing home and also prohibits them from interfering with the cameras. If approved, the law would go into effect on January 1, 2020.

The bill is similar to legislation passed into law in Louisiana in May 2018, and other legislation that stalled last year in Missouri.

Part of the debate over the Minnesota bill focused on whether the nursing home should be notified about the camera. The bill now indicates that the default would be to notify the facility about the camera, however, relatives and residents have the option of not notifying them if they fear there may be reprisals. The proposed legislation has passed on a voice vote.

Nursing homes and other opponents of the growing trend say they are concerned about patients’ privacy, or of patients being exploited. Similar bills have been introduced elsewhere, but stalled by nursing home lobbyists who raised the privacy concerns.

Many nursing homes already have cameras installed in the hallways, which the industry argues is sufficient, because of what they say are extensive background checks conducted on employees. However, supporters for nursing home room cameras indicate that only placing the monitoring devices in the hallways fails to protect residents, and prevents family members from monitoring the quality of treatment.

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