Any request for a granny cam installation should be in writing and should be accompanied by written consent from any residents sharing the room
ROANOKE, Va. December 28, 2017
With demand for “granny cams” and other surveillance devices on the rise, long-term care (LTC) facilities need to know how to address legal and other issues surrounding them, warns medical malpractice defense attorney Nancy Reynolds in a just-published column for industry publication McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.
The outcry for surveillance devices appears to have spiked after recent tragedies, including the multiple heat-related fatalities at a Florida nursing home following a Hurricane Irma-related power outage, notes Reynolds, a shareholder in national law firm LeClairRyan’s Roanoke, Va. office and leader of the firm’s Long Term Care Industry team. The deaths prompted Florida legislators to post an add-on bill allowing recording devices in residents' rooms, writes Reynolds in the column, “As demand increases for granny cams, what should LTC facilities do?”
As concerned residents and their loved ones are increasingly demanding granny cams, at least eight states have passed legislation addressing the issue; yet many LTC facilities are not familiar with the legal and other issues surrounding requests to install video and other monitoring equipment, she notes.
Reynolds advises against a blanket prohibition of in-room cameras. “This is the wrong response because families may sneak a camera in and hide it. The facility's discovery of those hidden cameras may not occur until damaging footage airs on the local news channels,” cautions Reynolds. “This kind of disturbing scenario can be easily avoided with policies that allow facilities to take charge and require commitment from residents or their responsible parties to follow these policies.”
She recommends that a facility’s policies should include a strict prohibition on hidden cameras with an explanation that any recording made without proper written consent is a violation of residents' rights, noting that use of the information can violate HIPPA restrictions on distribution of private health information.
Any request for a granny cam installation should be in writing and should be accompanied by written consent from any residents sharing the room, notes Reynolds. Requests by co-habitants to limit the monitoring — such as no audio surveillance or a camera pointed only at the requesting resident's bed — must be honored to preserve resident rights.
Reynolds counsels that a notice should be posted at the room's entrance to alert anyone entering that they are under surveillance. “The camera and any audio recording device should be stationary and placed in plain view,” she adds.
Staff members should also be notified immediately of recording devices and trained on how to respond. Any tendency to reduce interaction with residents in rooms with such devices should be discouraged, as all residents should have interactive and engaged caregivers, regardless of who is watching, Reynolds writes.
“Long-term care facilities must be proactive with their responses to cameras in resident rooms,” she writes. “A strong policy giving the facility control over such an invasive practice is becoming increasingly necessary.
The full column is available at http://www.mcknights.com/guest-columns/as-demand-increases-for-granny-cams-what-should-ltc-facilities-do/article/720092/
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