August 21, 2015 marks a date that is certain to make history in personal injury cases in the state of Illinois. It is on that day that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill that advocates claim will help prevent occurrences of abuse and neglect in the state’s nursing homes. House Bill 2462, also known as The Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long Term Care Facilities Act, takes effect on January 1, 2016, and enables residents of nursing homes and their families to install video and audio surveillance equipment in their rooms.

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New Illinois Law Allows Surveillance Equipment in Nursing Homes

The Bill, which was sponsored by Representative Greg Harris and Senator Terry Link, received overwhelming bipartisan support at the Illinois General Assembly in May of 2015, and comes at a time when it couldn’t be more necessary. Each year, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) receives an average of 19,000 calls reporting abuse and neglect that is allegedly committed against residents of Illinois long term care facilities. Approximately 5,000 of those claims are investigated annually, and there were more than 150 documented cases of abuse and neglect in 2014 alone. Lawmakers, friends and family members and personal injury lawyers in Illinois hope that the installation of surveillance equipment in our state’s long term care facilities will help prevent the tragic occurrence of negligence and abuse that so often plagues the residences of some our most vulnerable members of society.

Which Facilities are Included in the Act?

According to the Illinois General Assembly, the Act applies to numerous types of care facilities in the state.

  • Intermediate Care Facilities: Intermediate care facilities in Illinois that provide care to the developmentally disabled are included in the Act if they are licensed under the ID/DD Community Care Act and offer 30 or more beds.
  • Long Term Care Facilities: Long term care facilities in Illinois that provide care for individuals under the age of 22 and are licensed under the ID/DD Community Care Act are included.
  • Nursing Home Facilities: Any Illinois facility that is licensed under the Nursing Home Care Act is included in the Bill.

What Types of Surveillance Equipment are Included?

The Bill clearly states that the term “electronic monitoring device” is defined as being a surveillance instrument that offers a fixed position camera, an audio recording device, or a combination of the two that records or broadcasts sounds and/ or activities that occur. According to the Chicago Tribune, these types of monitoring devices can cost residents and their family members anywhere from $200 to more than $1,000. Additionally, all surveillance equipment installations and services must comply with the National Fire Protection Association’s 101 Life Safety Code.

Special Provisions of Bill 2462

While residents and their families should consult a personal injury lawyer in Illinois for more detailed information about the Act or advice about their specific situation, below are a few notable provisions of the Bill than can help Illinois residents develop a better understanding of what to expect with the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long Term Care Facilities Act.

  • Consent: Residents who are able to do so must give consent before surveillance equipment is installed in their room. In the event that the resident is unable to make an informed decision, authorized consent may be given by a legal guardian. Residents who have a roommate must obtain the consent of the other person. If the roommate fails to consent, the facility must provide the resident with another shared room if space is available.
  • Cost: All costs associated with purchasing, installing and maintaining the monitoring equipment are the responsibility of the resident and his or her family. The Act requires the IDPH to set up an assistance program for residents who are unable to afford access to electronic monitoring equipment but wish to have it installed. The fund, which will dispersed every year in the form of a lottery, includes up to $50,000 to cover costs for the purchase and installation of electronic monitoring devices.
  • Protection: The Act establishes legal penalties for facilities that commit acts of retaliation or discrimination against residents who opt for the installation of surveillance equipment, as well as for those who tamper with, obstruct, or destroy the equipment.
  • Notice: The resident or legal guardian must give written notice to the facility before installing electronic monitoring devices. Additionally, the equipment must be placed conspicuously, and a sign that states “This room is electronically monitored” must be placed outside of the resident’s room.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the state of Illinois is the fifth state in the nation to enact a law that allows the installation and use of electronic monitoring equipment in long term care facilities. Other states with similar laws include Oklahoma, Washington, Texas and New Mexico.

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