How People Are Catching Elderly Abuse in Nursing Homes

nursing home abuse on cameraPeople who are concerned their loved one may be not be receiving proper treatment in the nursing home in which they reside have taken some drastic steps to remedy the situation.

A Cleveland area man, Charles Piskor, said he was made to feel he was the complainer, “the bad guy,” when he would ask about such things as a red mark on his 78-year-old mother’s face that he could not explain.

But Piskor found out that he was not the “bad guy.”  His mother, an Alzheimer’s patient, was being mistreated by staff members where she lived at a skilled nursing facility in Ohio.  He discovered this by installing a hidden camera in her room.

Piskor hid the camera inside a small fan, but posted a sign warning that a hidden camera had been installed in the room.  He claimed it took only a few days to obtain videos of staff members striking and rough handling his mother.  Two workers were fired when the camera photos became public. One worker was charged with felonious assault—a third aide was disciplined.

This happened 17 months ago at Metro Health’s Prentiss Center.  The Ohio State Department of Health had cited the facility earlier in the month Piskor’s videos were made for failing to prevent abuse and mistreatment.  Metro Health hired an outside consultant to investigate the incidents of alleged abuse.

As recently as this past December, two nursing home workers in the Philadelphia, PA area were caught on hidden camera allegedly taunting an elderly patient.  A family in Oklahoma who installed a camera in a nursing home room early in 2012 because they suspected workers were stealing from their 96-year-old mother discovered instead she was being abused.

Legislation has been introduced in 15 states over the past few years to permit wider use of the cameras, sometimes referred to as “granny cams.” However, only Texas and New Mexico have adopted laws addressing the use of cameras in nursing homes. Maryland introduced a proposed camera law in 2009 and 2010, but it was not enacted into law.

In New Jersey in 2011, a family sued a nursing home after their 87-year-old paralyzed mother died.  Her abuse had been caught on camera and a 59-year-old aide was charged with assault and abandonment and neglect of the elderly.  In New York, 22 workers were arrested in 2010 after hidden cameras revealed mistreatment of residents in two nursing home facilities.  These events indicate cameras are being used to stop abuse even if no specific law addresses their  usage.

What about the legality of hidden cameras?  This varies by state law, but federal law can also affect use of the cameras.

If the camera records sound as well as video, you must comply with federal and state wiretapping laws.  In Ohio, you need the consent of one of the parties to any recorded conversation to legally record it.  Of course, one of the parties could be the party making the recording.

The person installing the camera must also be aware of laws involving reasonable expectation of privacy as it is a violation of federal law to secretly capture photos or video images of people in places where they have an expectation of privacy, such as their bedroom in their home where they undress, etc.

Before beginning your own nursing home surveillance, you might want to talk with an attorney in your area to make sure you will not be liable for any civil lawsuits or criminal charges.  As mentioned previously, the privacy of any roommate must be considered (he or she may have to  consent to surveillance) as well as the ability of the nursing home patient to consent to the “granny cam” presence.

Nursing home administrators claim legalizing the use of cameras increases insurance costs and raises employee privacy issues.  Others say the privacy and dignity of the residents is violated.

If a loved one has become the victim of nursing home negligence in an Ohio nursing home or long term care facility, contact the Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP for a free consultation.  Call 1-888-709-9967 or send a message from our website at

Speaking with an attorney experienced with elderly abuse and nursing homes abuse and neglect in Ohio will answer your questions and help you decide what actions you can take even if you haven’t used a hidden camera to document the suspected abuse.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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