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A Bill to Protect the Elderly From Abuse and Neglect: Cameras in Illinois Nursing Homes

Co-authored by Gregory Zimmer of The Collins Law Firm, P.C.

Contusions, bedsores, broken hips---all signs of nursing home neglect or abuse that can be caught earlier or even prevented with protective-care cameras. Last week, the Illinois legislature sent Governor Rauner a bill aimed at getting cameras in the rooms of every nursing home resident who wants one. Illinois has more than 860 nursing homes with more than 76,000 residents.1  If the governor passes the bill (HB2462), each of those residents can be better protected.

The possibility of neglect or abuse in nursing homes is a legitimate concern. The Federal Government's General Accounting Office reports that 25% of the nation's nursing homes have deficiencies that either cause actual harm to residents or carry the potential for serious injury or death.2  As a means to combat this problem, HB2462 specifies that footage from the cameras could be used as evidence in court.2

Privacy advocates cite concerns over nursing home residents' dignity. With this consideration in mind, the bill requires consent from filmed residents. A physician would determine whether the resident is capable of consent.

Currently, four states---New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington---have laws requiring nursing homes to allow residents to install electronic monitoring devices.3  A fifth state, Maryland, has guidelines for nursing homes that voluntarily elect to use such devices if residents request them.3  While a federal law has yet to be passed, there have been no major problems with the execution of the legislation in those states. Hopefully, the experiences in these states will encourage more states to adopt these measures to prevent abuse and neglect.

Is a camera system appropriate for you or your loved one? If Governor Rauner signs the bill, the choice will be yours to make.

1 Associated Press - "Bill would allow cameras in Illinois nursing homes" (July 3, 2015)

2 Good Morning America - "Surveillance Cameras in Nursing Homes?" (February 15, 2015)

3 Chicago Tribune - "Nursing home room monitoring cameras would be allowed under Illinois bill" (February 13, 2015)

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