Abuse of a patient in long-term care is a family’s worst nightmare. After making the difficult decision to place a family member in a nursing home, the worst imaginable outcome is injury or death of the loved one inflicted by caregivers.
Oklahoma is the third state in the nation to adopt a law that allows nursing home residents and their families to use video monitoring to prevent, and gather evidence of, patient abuse in long-term care facilities. The Protect Our Loved Ones Act, commonly referred to as the “granny cam law,” allows patients and families to use surveillance cameras to record the goings-on in nursing home rooms.
News reports of Oklahoma nursing home abuse make families fearful of trusting strangers to provide high-quality and safe long-term care to seniors and seriously ill patients.
The granny cam law is gaining traction as a way to hold nursing homes accountable for the safety and dignified treatment of elderly and ill patients. The horrific abuse of a 96-year-old dementia patient in an Oklahoma City long-term care home caused a public uproar in support of the video surveillance law.
The woman’s daughter noticed that small gifts she gave to her mother were disappearing and decided to secretly place a motion-activated camera in her room. Instead of getting footage of petty theft, the camera captured horrible scenes of abuse: Nursing home staff members stuffed latex gloves in Ms. Mayberry’s mouth, mocked her and performed chest compressions while she lay there at their mercy.
In another case, an Oklahoma City woman died in a nursing home where, her family alleges, staff members had abused her. The family had noticed bruises on her body, and she emotionally withdrew, much to their alarm. They placed a camera in her room and captured scenes of aides subjecting her to abuse. When they confronted the staff, the family says, they threatened to evict Rich. The district attorney is prosecuting nursing home staff members accused of physically and emotionally abusing her.
Under the Protect Our Loved Ones Act, Oklahoma a patient and family must file a video surveillance form with the nursing home before installing a camera in a resident’s room. Of course, having that information on file might alert staff who would otherwise engage in wrongdoing with patients. But any measure to reduce abuse is welcome in a state that’s been shocked by recent reports of criminal abuse and neglect of long-term care patients.
Long-term care providers argued that the law would create complex situations that might compromise provider liability and patient privacy. However, Texas and New Mexico both have video surveillance laws akin to Oklahoma’s law, and several other states are considering similar measures to help families prevent nursing home injuries and fatalities.
Florida has a nursing home residents’ bill of rights, which asserts that chronically ill and elderly residents of long-term care homes are entitled to dignity and respect as well as competent and compassionate care. Although Oklahoma does not have such a specific requirement, lawmakers and patient advocates are hopeful that the Protect Our Loved Ones Act will help ensure that abuse at the hands of careless or cruel nursing home staff will be noticed, investigated, and prosecuted when necessary. For legal help, contact our Oklahoma nursing home abuse attorneys. We are ready to fight for you and your loved ones. Call us today for a free consultation.