Header graphic for print
HealtHITech Law HIPAA, HITECH and Beyond

Legislation Would Permit Hidden Cameras In Nursing Homes

Posted in Legislation

Many thanks to our colleague, Robin Amicon, for submitting the following guest post.

New legislation was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives that would give nursing home residents the right to install and use electronic monitoring devices in their rooms in order to capture incidents of abuse or neglect.  House Bill 298, introduced on October 16, 2013, would add a provision to Ohio Revised Code Section 3721.13 of the Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights that would specifically permit such practice.  The bill would also revise Section 3721.18 of the Ohio Revised Code to specifically provide that the Attorney General can use hidden cameras in investigating abuse or neglect allegations of nursing homes.

The legislation was introduced by Reps. Mike Duffy and Michael Stinziano following the ordered closure of a Zanesville nursing home earlier this year after authorities used hidden cameras as part of their investigation of the facility.

Proponents of the law say that House Bill 298 will help to ensure that nursing home residents are able to use recording devices to protect themselves.  However, House Bill 298 raises serious concerns about potential privacy violations.  Both state and federal law provide nursing home residents various rights of privacy.  For example, the Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights also mandates the right to privacy during medical examinations and treatment.  Such rights to privacy could be undermined by the presence of hidden surveillance cameras, especially for roommates of residents that will be captured by such cameras that have not or would not consent to such videotaping.

The House Judiciary Committee was set to take its first look at the legislation last week.  We will continue to monitor the legislation and will provide updates as they occur.