On February 13, 2015, a federal jury in Oklahoma found in favor of the plaintiff in a nursing home abuse case and awarded $1.2 million in compensatory damages for emotional distress and an additional $10,000 in punitive damages. The case involved the abuse of a 96-year-old nursing home resident whose abuse by nursing home staff was documented by a surveillance video camera that had been hidden in the resident’s room. The nursing home abuse depicted in the video took place in 2012.
The elderly woman was in her wheelchair at the Oklahoma nursing home in April 2012 when the hidden video camera captured two nursing home aides placing a latex glove in the woman’s mouth, as well as further physical and emotional harm. One of the aides fled the U.S. after the video surfaced, and the other served almost two years in prison before she was deported. As a result of this shocking incident, Oklahoma law was changed to authorize the use of video cameras in the rooms of nursing home residents under specified circumstances (only the third U.S. state to do so).
An advocate for nursing home reform stated after the nursing home abuse verdict was rendered, “In my mind, there’s absolutely no question that these aides had abused other residents before this. This was not the first time that they had ever abused a resident and if it had not been for that camera they would have continued to abuse other residents.”
Oklahoma’s “Protect Our Loved Ones Act”
Oklahoma’s “Protect Our Loved Ones Act” (“Act”) is set forth in Oklahoma Statutes – Title 63 Public Health and Safety, §63-1-1953.1, et seq. The Act states, in part, that a nursing facility shall provide written notice to each resident, or to the representative of a resident, that authorized electronic monitoring of a resident’s room conducted under the provisions of the Act is not compulsory and shall only be conducted with the written consent of the resident or the representative of the resident. A nursing facility shall not refuse to admit an individual to residency in the facility and shall not remove a resident from a facility because of authorized electronic monitoring of a resident’s room.
The Act further provides that a resident or the representative of a resident may conduct authorized electronic monitoring of the resident’s room through the use of authorized electronic monitoring devices placed in the room pursuant to the provisions of the Act at the expense of such person or representative of the resident and with the written consent of any other resident living in the room. A resident who conducts authorized electronic monitoring or the representative of the resident may post and maintain a notice at the entrance to the resident’s room stating that the room is being monitored by an electronic monitoring device. Nothing in the Act shall be construed to prevent a resident or the representative of the resident from placing an electronic monitoring device in the resident’s room at the expense of such person; however, if such resident is sharing a room with any other resident, the resident or the representative of the resident shall obtain written consent from such other resident or the representative of the resident living in the room and such consent shall be on a form prescribed by the State Department of Health and shall be placed on file with the administrator of the facility. If a resident residing in a shared room, or the representative of a resident residing in a shared room, desires to utilize an authorized electronic monitoring device and another resident living in such shared room refuses to consent to the use of an authorized electronic monitoring device, the nursing facility shall accommodate the resident or the representative of the resident desiring to utilize an authorized electronic monitoring device to move to another room if the resident or resident’s representative requests such a room change within a reasonable amount of time.
If you or a loved one were injured (or worse) as a result of nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, or nursing home neglect in the United States, you should find a nursing home claim lawyer in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a nursing home negligence case, if appropriate.
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