Cameras In Nursing Home Rooms: A New Effort to Prevent Medical Malpractice

Posted on: 9 September 2015

When you place your loved one into the care of a nursing home facility, you expect the staff to treat the person with care and respect. Unfortunately, elder abuse is a rising problem. According to statistics available on the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) website, up to 10 percent of respondents to the study experienced elder abuse in the prior year. However, a law recently passed in Illinois aims to help reduce the abuse of elderly people by allowing the family of patients to place cameras in their nursing home rooms. Here's more information about this measure.

Holding Nursing Homes Accountable

The law, which was signed by the governor in August 2015 and takes effect in January 2016, lets either the resident or the person's family members place a video or audio recorder in the person's room. If the individual is sharing a room with another person, the roommate must consent to having the recording device installed. Family members are responsible for purchasing the device.

According to the Illinois Department of Health, there are about 5,000 complaints of abuse every year, and the department found 106 of those complaints to be valid in 2013. However, as noted previously, the problem of elder abuse is more widespread. The NCEA reports that most offenders are family members, but nursing home workers have also seriously injured and even killed patients.

Illinois elder advocates hope the video cameras will help reduce the instance of abuse or at least catch perpetrators in the act so they can be punished and prevented from hurting others. For instance, a Kansas nurse was recently sentenced to two months in jail and barred from working with patients after being caught abusing a nursing home resident on hidden video tape.

Medical Malpractice as Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse goes beyond the infliction of physiological or psychological injuries through physical and verbal abuse. It can also extend to various types of medical malpractice including purposefully or neglectfully mishandling patient medication, giving patients unneeded medication just to "keep them quiet," and not properly treating or seeking medical assistance with injuries a patient sustains.

For instance, an 89-year-old woman died because the nursing home staff gave her an antibiotic that interacted negatively with a blood thinner she was taking and did not notify her doctor so the physician could order the necessary tests. One study even found that the mishandling of medication in care facilities accounted for 34,000 adverse medical events every year.

Proving medical malpractice involves providing evidence of four factors:

  • The perpetrator agreed to care for or had a duty to the patient
  • The person was negligent in the performance of that duty or care
  • That negligence caused the patient's injuries
  • The injuries resulted in compensable damages (e.g. medical bills)

Unfortunately, it can be challenging proving the nursing home staff was at fault for a patient's injuries for a couple of reasons. First, people of advanced age typically have a number of medical problems, and it can be difficult proving the adverse medical event was caused by neglect or abuse and not the natural outcome of disease or age.

Another issue is that getting evidence of abuse may also be problematic as the nursing home may try to cover up the errors by altering records. The employees involved in the abuse or neglect may lie to avoid being punished for their actions. In this case, having a video camera in the patient's room can provide irrefutable evidence of wrongdoing if something untoward did occur.

While providing medical malpractice at a nursing home may be challenging, it is not impossible. To increase your chances of winning your case, check out a site like to learn more about such cases and seek out a nursing home lawyer in your area.