May 29, 2012

DOH Issues Guidance on Use of Surveillance Equipment in Nursing Homes

Increasingly, nursing homes seek guidance on the considerations involved in the use of surveillance equipment in their facilities.  On May 22, 2012, the New York State Department of Health issued a “Dear Administrator Letter” (DAL) addressing the use and installation of audio and/or video surveillance equipment in nursing homes.  The DAL is available here.

According to the DAL, nursing homes have the right to develop policies and procedures addressing the use or non-use of surveillance equipment.  In their policies, nursing homes should specify how the resident and his or her family or representative would be informed, at admission and thereafter, about the installation, placement, and use of security equipment.  The DAL identifies the regulations at F164, 42 C.F.R. § 483.10(e), on Privacy and Confidentiality; F241, 42 C.F.R. § 483.15(a), on Dignity; and F156, 42 C.F.R. § 483.10(b)(1), on Notice of Rights and Responsibilities as relevant to the issue.  Notably, the State Operations Manual Interpretative Guidelines, at Tag F164, define the “right to privacy” to include not only full visual privacy but also, to the extent desired, for visits or other activities, auditory privacy as well.

This post was contributed by Jane Bello Burke.