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Report recommends 'granny cam' option

By Greg Groeller | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted January 25, 2002

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Florida's nursing home residents should have the right to install video cameras in their rooms, a state task force said Thursday.

In a report sent to lawmakers and Gov. Jeb Bush, the task force -- comprised of officials from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and Attorney General's Office -- said a law should be passed that would require nursing homes to install "granny cams" in rooms if residents or their families request them.

The task force has studied the contentious issue since it was introduced last year by the Legislature. Lawmakers are expected to debate the issue during the current legislative session.

Many nursing home officials oppose video cameras, saying they would invade the privacy of residents and scare away employees. But consumer advocates and lawyers say cameras would keep employees from abusing residents.

"The likely deterrent effect on resident abuse and neglect . . . suggests that the voluntary use of cameras in nursing homes and resident rooms would work well in Florida," the task force said. "Legislation should allow Floridians to make this choice."

Any legislation should include provisions that would protect the privacy of visitors and roommates of residents who request cameras, and should require residents to pay the cost to install and maintain the equipment, the report said.

Florida law does not prohibit residents from installing cameras. However, the task force said it was worried that the lack of a specific right to cameras could result in retaliation by nursing home employees or the eviction of residents.

At a public hearing in Tampa last October, a handful of nursing home officials testified that they had installed cameras in common areas of their facilities. While employees were initially uncomfortable with the cameras, staff turnover eventually dropped, they said.

However, two insurance executives argued in letters to the task force that cameras in residents' rooms could cause nursing homes' liability premiums to rise. Videos could be misinterpreted and could result in more legal judgments against homes, they said.

Last year, Texas became the first state in the nation to pass a law allowing video cameras in nursing homes. Legislators in other states -- including Ohio and North Carolina -- are considering similar laws.

Greg Groeller can be reached at 407-420-5471 or

Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel


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