A loving son who was concerned that his father was being harmed in a New York nursing home took the bold step of placing a concealed camera in his father’s nursing home room to monitor and document the care (or lack of care) his father was receiving. The recordings from the hidden camera have resulted in 10 of the nursing home care employees being criminally charged with regard to their treatment of the resident who was totally dependent on them for care and assistance.
The nursing home resident, who has since died, was a double amputee (both legs had been amputated above the knees) who also had partial upper body paralysis, was a type-2 diabetic, and had impaired cognition. He also suffered from glaucoma and had other medical issues. His condition required that his nursing home caregivers provide him with timely prescription medications, proper catheter care, and appropriate monitoring of his blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Because of his physical disabilities, he needed range of motion exercises and timely incontinence care.
Six nurses (two Registered Nurses and four Licensed Practical Nurses) and four nursing assistants involved with the man’s nursing home care over the period of time that the hidden camera was active have been charged with various incidents of nursing home neglect for their alleged failures to provide the appropriate, necessary, and timely care that the man required. The camera revealed occasions when the man received no hands-on care whatsoever during entire shifts; the man was in his bed the entire time, laying immobile. On other occasions, the nursing home staff used improper and unsafe techniques when transferring the man out of and into his bed.
The charged nurses and nursing assistants allegedly falsified nursing home records to hide their neglect of the man’s care and needs. The 10 nursing home employees were criminally charged with falsifying business records (a class E Felony, for which the possible sentence is 4 years in prison), willful violation of the Public health Law, and some were also charged with endangering the welfare of a physically disabled person.
In announcing on March 25, 2014 the criminal charges filed against the 10 nursing home employees, the Attorney General of New York stated, “Nursing home residents are among our state’s most vulnerable citizens and the perpetual neglect in this case is shameful. Today’s charges send a message that we will not tolerate anyone being neglected by those responsible for their care and will use every tool in our arsenal, including hidden cameras, to ensure that those most in need of help are safely cared for and treated with respect and dignity.”
Not all states in the United States allow the placement or use of surveillance cameras in nursing home residents’ rooms. Just last week, a bill introduced in the South Carolina Legislature that would have allowed electronic monitoring of South Carolina nursing home residents by loved ones failed to advance out of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee. Proponents of the bill argue that the cameras can help family members monitor their loved ones’ care from afar and help prevent nursing home neglect and abuse. The opposition to the bill cites patient privacy rights and interference with private businesses.
If you or a loved one were neglected or abused in a nursing home in the United States, you should promptly consult with a nursing home claim attorney in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and represent you in a nursing home lawsuit, if appropriate.
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