Legislation proposed in two different states seeks to make it legal for family members to use video cameras in long-term care facilities, to protect against nursing home abuse and neglect.
Late last month, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed HB 281, which would allow nursing home residents or qualified surrogates to install monitoring devices, such as video cameras, in their rooms. The bill prevents facilities from denying requests for the cameras, and requires either the resident or their surrogates to pay for the equipment and installation.
The next move is for the bill to go to the state senate and, if passed, on to the governor’s desk.
If enacted, Louisiana would be the latest in a growing number of states which have put similar legislation in place in recent years.
Two similar bills have also been introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives this year. However, one of the bills allows nursing homes to reject requests for the cameras. That bill has advanced to the state senate, while a similar bill, the original version (PDF), that does not allow nursing homes to deny requests for video cameras is stalled in the House.
Both bills were introduced by Rep. Andrew McDaniel, of Deering, who said that it may be possible to work on giving families more control over the cameras in the future, but indicated that the legislation had stalled due to push back from the nursing home industry.
McDaniel says he wrote the bill after his office received hundreds of calls from constituents complaining about nursing home problems, including neglect, abuse, rape and fraud.
Supporters of the legislation argue that families could 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. However, concerns have been raised that provisions that provide nursing homes with the option of denying the camera requests takes the teeth out of the legislation.
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.