If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, it’s important to take action. But what type of evidence and how much of it you have plays
a significant role in whether or not acareless nursing home can be held legally accountable for its actions.
Below, we discuss recording visual and auditory evidence of neglect or assault, what laws may be applicable, and how a nursing home abuse lawyer can help your family.
Laws About Recording Devices In Medical Facilities In Massachusetts & New Hampshire
Recording laws in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire require two-party consent, meaning that all parties being recorded must consent to the recording. Individuals who record and/or distribute recorded material either physically or electronically using any device may be charged with a crime like wiretapping or eavesdropping. Recordings may also be subject to disclosure under the Massachusetts public records law.
Although HIPAA governs medical privacy on a federal level, there are no blanket regulations against recording. Each state and medical institution is responsible for obtaining consent and protecting the Private Health Information (PHI) of people who were recorded. This may mean that a hospital or long-term care facility has a no-recording policy or that only limited recording is available.
Federal Laws About Recording Devices In Medical Facilities
Under federal law, patients or their loved ones may make audio recordings to document medical care or investigate a complaint in a medical facility if one party consents. This means that patients are allowed to record conversations between themselves and their medical providers without the provider’s consent, but visual recordings are not protected by this law.
Since Massachusetts and New Hampshire state law differs, it’s always best to get the consent of all parties before making a recording. However, you may still be able to use recorded evidence against a negligent nursing home if the recording was made in accordance with U.S. law.
It’s also important to note that it’s generally against the law to place recording devices in areas where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as bedrooms and bathrooms. So, while you may be able to secretly record conversations in a nursing home common area or your loved one’s room, you probably cannot place a hidden camera in another resident’s room or the cafeteria without the consent of the nursing home and/or patients who come in and out of the room.
You can always consult with an attorney beforehand to ensure that you are not breaking any laws before attempting to record evidence of abuse in a long-term care facility.
What To Record
If you do decide to attempt recording evidence of your loved one’s abuse or neglect in a nursing home, pay attention to the following:
Indicators of Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is any type of force or violence that results in injury, pain, or impairment. It can include hitting, slapping, shoving, kicking, biting, choking, shaking, burning, hair-pulling, and using restraints or drugs to control behavior.
Record instances of physical abuse if you witness them. You can also record injuries after the fact to demonstrate the depth and scope of the damage done.
Indicators of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is any type of behavior that causes psychological harm. It can include yelling, name-calling, shaming, humiliating, threatening, manipulating, isolating from friends or family, and excessively controlling behavior.
Audio recordings are usually sufficient to capture evidence of emotional and verbal abuse against nursing home residents. Since most nursing home staff won’t abuse a patient in front of their loved ones, it may be beneficial to consider using a discreet recording device in the patient’s room.
Indicators of Neglect
Neglect is the failure to provide basic needs like food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, and supervision. It can also mean not assisting with activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, and using the restroom.
Recording evidence of neglect can be challenging since it is usually the absence of something that causes a problem. You can, however, record your loved one’s room, bed, and other living conditions, as well as the state of their health. Look for bedsores, signs of dehydration, weight loss due to malnutrition, and poor hygiene.
Other types of nursing home abuse include sexual and financial abuse, however, these may be difficult to obtain recordings of.
Who To Contact If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect that a crime has been committed against your loved one, like assault or theft, you should contact the police. The police can investigate the allegations and, if they find enough evidence, they can charge the abuser with a crime.
If you suspect that abuse is happening in a nursing home, You can also contact the nursing home administrator, who is responsible for ensuring that the residents are safe and well-cared for. They should investigate the allegations and take appropriate action to protect the residents. However, some nursing homes may be corrupt all the way to the top and this may not be of much help.
Finally, reach out to a nursing home abuse lawyer who can inform you of your legal options and help you gather compelling, admissible evidence to stop the abuse and neglect of your loved one. Call Mazow | McCullough, PC today for more info at (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084.