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Hidden Camera Use Weighed After Florida Nursing Home Abuse Revealed

The question of whether individual nursing homes or state law should allow “hidden” cameras is being raised again in light of footage captured by the family of a 94-year-old resident of a Pompano Beach facility.

According to ABC Local 10 News, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is seen struggling to get the man (who has dementia) off the bed. In the process, she causes him to fall into a chair. She then hits him on the head. In another clip, a CNA is seeing pouring mouthwash all over the man. This footage was especially telling because mouthwash contains alcohol. Alcohol dries out the skin, which can cause or exacerbate skin ulcers and bed sores. This particular individual suffered from stage three bedsores, and ultimately died from them, his family’s attorney now says. They are suing for wrongful death.

The man’s daughter said it was the camera that confirmed her worst fears. As her attorney noted, 99 percent of the time, the nursing home will deny any maltreatment. Absent any proof, some cases can be difficult to pursue, which makes the hidden camera evidence all the more valuable. It serves as undeniable proof of wrongdoing. 

However, there is no Florida law that says installing such cameras is allowable. In fact, it may be a violation of the resident’s privacy, and could be prosecuted. That doesn’t always happen, particularly when abuse is discovered, plaintiff families must be careful and it’s not a bad idea to consult with a nursing home injury lawyer first to determine if there may be less invasive ways to prove wrongdoing.

Still, there is no denying they have proven useful in some cases. For instance, it wasn’t long ago that one South Florida nursing home video showed a worker sleeping through a blaring alarm indicating the patient is in danger. Another video shows a patient’s breathing tube removed by a CNA; she failed to react despite the numerous alarms chirping. She leaves and reenters the room and still does nothing before leaving again. It’s another staffer that ultimately comes in and discovers the disconnected tube – five minutes later.

As it now stands, there are six states that expressly allow the use of video monitoring of nursing home residents. Florida is not one of them. In 2012, there was a bill before the state legislature that would have allowed use of the cameras in nursing homes. However, it died in committee in the face of fierce opposition from the nursing home lobby and the Florida Health Care Association (which represents some 550 of the state’s nearly 700 nursing homes). A representative of the association later told a reporter that such cameras “observe, but don’t protect.” But of course, that ignores the fact that when Florida nursing home abuse is discovered on those images, it usually stops because it becomes known, whereas otherwise it would not have.

Some state lawmakers say they are considering a new bill, but nothing has yet been filed for this year’s 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.

Additional Resources:

Hidden cameras show apparent abuse inside South Florida nursing homes, Nov. 13, 2017, By Jeff Weinsier, ABC Local 10 News

More Blog Entries:

Report: Florida’s Worst Nursing Homes Remain Open, March 13, 2018, Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Blog

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