MANY ISSUES TO ADDRESS – PRIVACY AND LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS
The issue of video cameras in nursing homes has exploded over the last several years. With the large scale saturation of such user friendly technologies as Skype, Facetime and similar video technologies it should not come as a surprise that these issues are cropping up in nursing homes. Video cameras can be a major liability for nursing homes, including even criminal liability. It seems almost weekly that someone is arrested or charged due to evidence gleaned from video cameras located in nursing home residents’ rooms or other areas. While management may decide to utilize video monitoring equipment in public areas, there are many problems with residents using the same or similar video technology even in their own rooms.
Certainly there are common areas that are not public in nature that are a definite problem area for video imaging. The distinction lies in the public versus private designation. You do not have an expectation of privacy in public. There is an expectation of privacy in a residential unit. With a video camera a resident may be able to, unwittingly, record another resident without his or her permission, in a private area of the nursing home. Such a broadcast, depending on the audience, could be grounds for an invasion of privacy lawsuit. In addition, it could be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, usually known as HIPAA, the federal law that requires the confidentiality of medical records. In addition, if there is an audio recording function, recording a third party’s conversations may also violate state criminal wiretapping laws. New York is in the majority of states that require the consent of at least one of the interlocutors for any interception to be deemed legal.