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‘Granny cam’ law aimed at curbing nursing-home abuse takes effect in Oklahoma

Posted Nov 20, 2013 6:45 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Outcry over nursing-home abuse caught by a secret video has spurred Oklahoma to become the third state to pass a law explicitly allowing cameras in rooms of long-term care residents.

The law passed after Doris Racher placed a secret, motion-activated camera in the room of her mother, 96-year-old Eryetha Mayberry, the New York Times Well blog reports. The camera recorded an aide stuffing latex gloves into Mayberry’s mouth while another taunted the elderly woman. Then the workers flung Mayberry onto the bed and one performed chest compressions.

The new Oklahoma law allows cameras in residents’ rooms if consent forms are filed to notify the facility, according to prior coverage by News9 and News Channel 4. The law gives the family exclusive rights to the recording and allows it to be used in court.

The other states with laws permitting surveillance cameras in nursing homes are New Mexico and Texas. The New York Times says that these are sometimes dubbed "granny cams," though some object to that coinage as patronizing.

State attorneys general in New York and Ohio have also relied on hidden cameras to record evidence of abuse and neglect in nursing homes. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he got permission from residents' families where he placed the cameras in state nursing homes, the Well blog says. He sought to shut down one facility after cameras recorded abuses that included an aide who repeatedly left food by the side of a stroke patient who was unable to eat without help.

The Well story included comments from critics who said hidden cameras raise privacy concerns and legal questions.

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