Pennsylvania Stuck in the Center of Debate About Use of Webcams in Nursing Homes, Where Do You Stand?

October 15, 2015  |  Serious Accidents, Nursing Home Abuse

These days new parents can check in on their infants in the next room via webcam, dog owners can watch their pet on their lunch breaks via video feed and police officers around the country are transitioning to wearing body cameras.  We’re “going live,” all of us, and relying on videos in a never-done-before way that helps us be in “two places at once,” keeping up with everything at the same time, all in one place (our phones!) in a very 21st century kind of life.

Say what you want about this trend, but one thing is for sure: Nursing homes have a long way to go to catch up with the 21st century video-centric world.

We’re talking about everything you can dream of: Motion-activated cameras that distribute live video feeds to smartphones and computers, clocks, teddy bears and more with hidden “baby cam” cameras and webcams used for video-based calls.

Throughout the country, these technologies may be abundant and increasingly in use. But far too many nursing homes throughout the country have failed to keep up with the technology, even when it can help elderly residents or be used as a protective measure when abuse or neglect is suspected.

Perhaps one of the least current ‘video-aware’ states is Pennsylvania, where there are no laws dealing with cameras in nursing homes at all.  Instead, there’s confusion.

For example, in Pennsylvania, there’s a Federal guideline that prioritizes residents’ rights — with conflicting interpretations — and a state wiretapping statute that allows video recording without the consent of all parties, yet disallows audio recording. What that means is, in Pennsylvania, individuals really have to figure it out themselves.

But that’s not the case everywhere.  For instance, in Texas, they allowed electronic monitoring in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities all the way back in 2001.

We’ve talked about nursing home abuse being caught on camera before, and while the matter may be tricky, it’s high time for Pennsylvania to declare their stance on the matter, helping to make it easier for their citizens — and, sometimes, nursing homes — know their rights.

If you live in Pennsylvania, tell us: How do you think Pennsylvania should regulate webcams in nursing homes?

On the positive side, webcams may help family members of loved ones in nursing homes catch suspected abuse or neglect and they may also allow family members to check in with their loved one or, in the case of live web calls, allow family members and loved ones to communicate from long distances.

On the negative side, webcams can be an invasion of privacy, as they may turned on 24/7, capturing footage that your elderly loved one might not want you to see.

We look forward to hearing what you think about webcams in Pennsylvania nursing homes. And if you know someone who was seriously hurt in a nursing home, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer at 866-612-0246 or complete our contact form for a free and confidential case review.

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