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Should you use a "Granny Cam" to detect nursing home abuse in New York?

Secretly videotaping seniors is one way to uncover nursing home abuse, but it is a tricky area legally speaking.
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    December 12, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- When you entrust a family member to an assisted care facility, you have a right to expect that your loved one will be treated with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, sometimes nursing home staff members violate your trust.

Elder mistreatment, which encompasses both abuse and neglect, is a widespread problem. The exact number of vulnerable older Americans who are mistreated is not precisely known, because many instances of nursing home abuse go unreported. One study cited by the National Center on Elder Abuse found that as many as one in ten seniors are experiencing some form of abuse or neglect. Findings from the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study indicated that for every instance of elder abuse or neglect known to a program or agency situated to address the issue, 24 cases went unreported.

Not surprisingly, with so many instances of elder mistreatment going undiscovered, some families take things into their own hands. Once elder abuse has been discovered, a lawsuit can help recover compensation for the harm done. But how can families find out for sure that abuse is taking place?

So-called "Granny Cams" have become increasingly popular to check up on how caregivers are treating elderly loved ones. While clandestine video surveillance may be one way to catch abusers in the act, it is also rife with legal and moral complications.

Three states explicitly permit "Granny Cams," but New York not among them.

As 2013 draws to a close, only three states -- Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas -- have statutes that specifically permit those residing in long-term care facilities to make video recordings of their room. Since long-term care residents may lack the legal capacity to consent to being filmed, often the decision is made by a legal representative.

While New York does not have a statute explicitly permitting "Granny Cams," there have been many instances of New Yorkers capturing abuse with a hidden video device. In fact, even the New York State Attorney General's Office has relied on secret cameras to uncover nursing home abuse and neglect.

Yet, video monitoring of a nursing home room may arguably interfere with the privacy of staff members, roommates, and even the resident being filmed. In a nursing home, residents may have to be bathed or helped using the toilet, for example, and they might not wish to have such things filmed, were they mentally capable of making the decision. Under state law, if a nursing home resident's family wishes to monitor him or her via a "Granny Cam," the resident's roommate (if he or she has one) does have the right to decline to be recorded.

Contact a New York nursing home abuse lawyer for help

While installing a "Granny Cam" may seem like a quick and easy way to either confirm or allay your fears of abuse, you should approach the use of hidden video equipment with extreme caution. If you suspect your loved one is being mistreated by nursing home staff, get in touch with a lawyer. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can offer advice on the best ways to gather evidence based on all applicable laws and the unique circumstances of your case.

If you do discover abuse or neglect, your attorney can guide you through the process, helping ensure the safety of your loved one and recovery of the monetary damages to which you are entitled. Get in touch with a New York nursing home abuse lawyer today if you believe your loved one may have been mistreated by caregivers.

Article provided by Rappaport Glass Greene & Levine LLP
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