Support Grows for Cameras in Care Facilities
Wall Street Journal (03/07/02) p.B1; Greene, Kelly

Though many nursing homes oppose the use of video-surveillance cameras in patient rooms because of the invasion of privacy, the use of so-called "granny cams" is on the rise. In fact, Orlando, Fla.-based attorney Michael Peters believes cameras could lower the instances of abuse and neglect by nursing home staff. Texas has already implemented a law clarifying the rights of families to install video cameras, and Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are also considering pilot projects or similar legislation. However, Dale Ewart, secretary-treasurer for Miami-based Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, says surveillance cameras will add more stress to the job and keep workers away. Moreover, nursing homes are worried about a deluge of lawsuits and soaring liability insurance premiums. Some insurance companies may even refuse coverage in states with pending legislation. Even so, some operators are installing surveillance cameras themselves as a way to attract competent employees and protect them from accusations of abuse. Cindy and Mark O'Steen, owners and operators of Lake City, Fla.-based Southland Suites, say cameras ensure their staff is well-trained and may have even contributed to lower liability-insurance premiums, which fell from $57,000 last year to $11,000.

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