Increasingly, relatives of Florida nursing home residents are installing cameras inside the rooms of their loved ones to ensure they are receiving quality care. Fears of inadequate nursing home care and even nursing home abuse are certainly founded, as the Government Accountability Office reports a quarter of U.S. nursing homes have deficiencies that cause actual harm or have the potential to inflict serious injury or death. Further, a survey of more than a dozen states found state and federal complaint procedures lacking, meaning at-risk patients suffered abuse and neglect in silence for months.
The idea of hidden cameras in nursing homes isn’t brand new, but it’s garnering renewed attention from Florida lawmakers. ABC-10 News in Broward County reports that family members of a nursing home resident in Pompano Beach installed a camera inside the room of their 94-year-old patriarch, who suffers from dementia. They were horrified at the images that returned.
The video reveals a certified nursing assistant (CNA) who is impatiently and forcefully trying to get the man to move off the bed. She pulls him, and sends him falling into a chair. She then hits him on the head. In a separate clip, the same nursing home worker is witnessed pouring mouthwash on him. Aside from the obvious cruelty of the act, the family’s nursing home abuse attorney explained it was one that ultimately proved fatal. Alcohol is a drying agent. The man reportedly was already suffering from Stage 3 pressure ulcers. Ultimately, it was those ulcers that killed him, plaintiff attorney alleges.
As our nursing home abuse attorneys in West Palm Beach know, the video images provide solid and irrefutable evidence of mistreatment. Certainly, we can build a case for nursing home abuse or neglect without such images, with the presentation of circumstantial evidence. For example, the very existence of a pressure ulcer is often indicative of failure to regularly turn, move or monitor the patient. Still, nursing home attorneys have gotten very adept at dodging and denying these allegations. It’s not uncommon for the nursing home administration to never concede an inch when it comes to admitting its failures.
This is what makes the video so valuable. It offers evidence that cannot be denied.
In another instance detailed by the local news affiliate, a hidden camera shows a nursing home worker dozing off when an alarm suddenly blares that something isn’t right with a patient’s breathing tube. The noise is loud and distinct on film. A separate video shows the tube was removed by an assistant. The alarms are still blaring, and the worker continues to sleep. At one point, she does get up and enter the room, but does nothing. Five minutes go by. It’s not until another employee enters that the removed breathing tube is discovered. The nursing assistant seen sleeping said she had no idea the tube had been disconnected. However, the video images clearly show otherwise.
There are currently six states that specifically allow nursing home residents and their families the right to a video monitor in their room. Florida is not among them. In 2012, a bill was presented the state legislature that would have allowed the use of cameras, but it ultimately died in committee.
The Florida Health Care Association, an organization representing 550 of the state’s 680+ nursing homes, issued a statement outlining privacy concerns regarding in-room cameras. The station reported several state lawmakers have launched into new research on the issue, and may draft a bill in the future. However at this juncture, no bills have been filed for the upcoming legislative session.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Hidden cameras show apparent abuse inside South Florida nursing homes, Nov. 13, 2017, By Jeff Weinsier, Local10.com
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