Following Hurricane Irma, the temperatures in a Hollywood Hills nursing home soared to 99 degrees, which is 18 degrees higher than federal regulations allow. This ultimately resulted in the deaths of 13 people who were living there.
Residents of the nursing home struggled for 62 hours in the oppressive heat, and at least four out of every five residents on the top floor suffered some level of heat exposure and/or dehydration. The state of Florida has since alleged that officials from the nursing home violated state law because they should have recognized the risks associated with the rising temperatures.
Family members of the deceased residents filed lawsuits against the nursing home, claiming that it was understaffed, and that pleas for water by residents went unanswered. The nursing home stated in its defense that they properly monitored, hydrated and cared for their residents and that at no time “were any excessive temperatures experienced in the building.”
In this particular case, video surveillance would have conclusively determined if residents of the nursing home experienced abuse and neglect. But are hidden cameras even legal?
Does Florida Allow Hidden Cameras?
There are currently only a handful of states that legally allow hidden cameras in nursing homes, and Florida is not one of them. That being said, in most states, there is no specific law that makes it a criminal offense for a friend or family member of a nursing home resident to place a hidden surveillance camera in the resident’s room. In fact, in the state of Florida, anyone can use a hidden camera in public places to deter criminal activity.
Placing a hidden camera in a nursing home can, however, violate The Omnibus and Reconciliation Act (OBRA), which is a federal law that regulates nursing home conduct in the United States. The OBRA Act gives nursing home patients the right to privacy in:
- Telephone communications
- Family meetings
- Written communications
- Medical treatments
If nursing home staff members discover a video surveillance camera on the premises, they may legally remove it, as well as refuse to allow such surveillance moving forward.
Florida Health Care Association Is Against Nursing Home Video Surveillance
The Florida Health Care Association has cautioned against the use of video surveillance to monitor nursing home patients. As such, before deciding to place a hidden camera in a loved one’s room, it is important to know that you may be violating privacy laws, as well as the nursing home contract you signed. This contract almost certainly stated that family members would adhere to nursing home regulations. As such, using a hidden camera could result in the expulsion of your loved one.
Contact Our Florida Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, it is important to contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer immediately. Prior to placing a hidden camera in your loved one’s room, review all of your legal options with your attorney first. Your lawyer will be able to help you protect your loved one from abuse and file a claim against the negligent parties.
At Zimmet & Zimmet, our nursing home abuse lawyers have the resources and the experience to tackle these types of emotional and delicate cases. Contact us today at 386-255-6400 for a free initial consultation and review of your case.