A bill drafted by the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner will expressly allow cameras in nursing home residents’ rooms. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2016. Our team of nursing home abuse lawyers commends this measure and encourages residents and concerned loved ones to consider implementing recording devices.
The law – the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Facilities Act – will require that residents and their roommates consent to having video or audio recording systems installed. Any resident who is unable to give consent may have their legal guardians or family members consent for them. A physician would have to determine whether or not the resident is capable of consenting.
All expenses are the responsibility of the resident and their family, however, the bill does include a $50,000 annual fund for residents who want recording devices but cannot afford them. Residents receiving money from the fund will be selected by lottery.
All nursing homes will have to post signs at main entrances warning visitors that rooms could be electronically monitored.
Importantly, anyone found tampering with, obstructing, or destroying these systems will be subject to criminal penalties, including misdemeanor or felony charges. Nursing homes also may not discriminate or retaliate against residents who wish to install monitoring devices. Any resident whose roommate objects to having them installed must be moved to another room.
Four other states currently have laws requiring nursing homes to allow electronic monitoring devices: Washington, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. Additionally, Maryland has specific guidelines on how facilities should handle residents who wish to install them.
How This Could Affect Negligence and Abuse Lawsuits
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The new law specifically notes that any footage recorded could be used as evidence in court. This has been done countless times in other states, to the justice of the injured resident. One of the most recent cases was in Oklahoma City, involving Quail Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation. The family of a woman with dementia was concerned about their elderly mother and installed a hidden camera in her room.
Camera footage caught several employees physically abusing the resident, Eryetha Mayberry, who was over 90 years old. Mayberry’s daughters filed suit against the nursing home and the two employees caught abusing their mother, ultimately winning $1.2 million in a jury verdict.
The Illinois Department of Public Health receives
nearly 20,000 complaints of abuse and neglect every year from residents of nursing homes. The department will publish guidelines for the cameras when the law goes into effect in January 2016, but families and residents interested in installing devices should begin researching their options as soon as possible. There are a few standards the devices must adhere to, including positioning and visibility requirements. There are many different types of recording systems available on market, fitting various budgets and needs.
More information on the new law can be found on the Illinois General Assembly website. The nursing home abuse lawyers at Pintas & Mullins have been advocating for residents and their families for 30 years. We know how unsettling it can be to not know what is going on in the facility on a daily basis. We hope this new law will help protect vulnerable residents and deter any potential abusers. If you have any questions about this new law or any other nursing home injury topic, contact our firm for a free consultation.