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"Granny cams" latest solution to tackling rise in nursing home abuse

Several instances of death or injury were discovered at various nursing homes in San Diego that, unfortunately, were found attributed to medical errors due to lack of medical training of personnel.
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    January 24, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Nursing home abuse and neglect is a growing problem all throughout the United States and much of it occurs as a result of medical errors. A recent investigation on nursing home abuse has been highlighted among various media outlets.

Investigators from UT Watchdog together with the California Healthcare Foundation--a nonprofit organization that works to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare for California residents--examined cases from various nursing home entities in the San Diego County area. The investigators uncovered 27 instances where death or serious injury occurred.

But, most alarmingly, they discovered many occurrences were attributed to medical errors due to lack of medical training provided to personnel.

Specific medical error instances

In one instance, a resident died after personnel failed to treat her ongoing cough that lasted more than 10 days. In another instance, a resident was sent to the emergency room after a caseworker negligently gave her the wrong prescription. Yet, in another case, a resident at one facility was found to have been given four times the prescribed dosage of medication.

Reports from the California Department of Social Services indicate that an insufficient level of medical training of staff was a big part of the reason behind these calamities.

Unfortunately, cases like this are happening all too often in nursing homes all across the country, including New York. Fortunately, many state authorities are taking action to reduce these medical errors from occurring to nursing home residents. Some have turned to using electronic surveillance--a method that is growing in popularity.

Mitigation efforts using "granny cams"

The increased use of surveillance was due in part to an Oklahoma resident's family proactive measures to protect their loved one who resided at a nursing home. After suspecting theft, the family installed a hidden camera in the resident's room to detect the person taking the belongings. The video unfortunately revelaed much more than the thievery; it showed instances of abuse committed against the resident by various personnel.

Since then, these "granny cams," as they are referred to, have been growing in popularity. Both families and state authorities are utilizing these cameras or similar devices.

In New York, for instance, the state's attorney general's office publically announced that such methods were being utilized by its department. In 2012, the office even demonstrated their hidden camera methods to state investigators at a national training program.

The Ohio state attorney general's office has also taken similar initiatives. The office recently announced plans to insert hidden cameras in various residents' rooms, with guardianship permission, in undisclosed facilities in an effort to deter the abusive conduct and increase oversight among nursing home care provided to residents.

Continued oversight

As the baby boomer population continues to age, so will the need for additional nursing home facilities. Hopefully, increased electronic surveillance measures, other oversight initiatives, or Congressional action will reduce medical errors and other nursing home abuse practices that happen to our nation's growing elderly population

Article provided by Trevett, Cristo, Salzer & Andolina P.C.
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