Nursing Home Abuse May Be Prevented by Cameras in Rooms, Missouri Lawmaker Says

A Missouri lawmaker is proposing a bill that would make video cameras legal in nursing homes, in an effort to deter abuse and negligent treatment in the state. 

Representative Andrew McDaniel, a Republican from the 150th district, backed and introduced House Bill 398 earlier this month, which would allow camera’s in the room’s of Missouri nursing home residents, upon the family’s request.

McDaniel says he wrote the bill after his office received hundreds of calls from constituents complaining about nursing home abuse, nursing home neglect, rape and fraud.

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The law would make the cameras optional at the family’s request, not mandatory, and the camera would be installed at the expense of the family, allowing relatives to view the cameras at any time and monitor their loved one’s safety.

McDaniel’s and other supporters argue that families could also monitor how often medications are given, how much of each medication, how the family member is being taken care of, and they could monitor and prevent various types of abuse.

Nursing homes and other opponents of the bill say they are concerned about patients’ privacy, or of patients being exploited. Similar bills have been introduced, but they were stalled by nursing home lobbyists because of similar concerns for patient privacy.

Many nursing homes already have camera’s installed in the hallways, which the industry argues is sufficient, especially considering the 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. The cameras are also expected to deter nursing home abuse.

House Bill 398  would allow the patient room cameras to be turned off during private times, such as baths, changing or when the patient is exposed.

The bill is pending a hearing at the Missouri House of Representatives. If passed, it will still need to be voted on at the state senate level before being voted on by both the state House and Senate, then it would go to the Governor for approval.

So far, the bill does not have a hearing date scheduled at the House of Representatives. If the bill is passed it could become effective in August.

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