Controversy erupts after webcam removal from disabled resident's nursing home room

It's not clear yet whether Pennsylvania will become the fifth state to adopt rules or laws prohibiting or allowing private video recording or surveillance in nursing homes. But one Philadelphia nursing home's struggle to deal with the technology created a storm of controversy recently.

In December, Inglis House, a nonprofit nursing home, most of whose 300 residents have complex disabilities, removed the computer and webcam from the private room of Stuart Sanderson, a resident with cerebral palsy. Sanderson relied on the device to communicate privately with family members.

The facility eventually returned the equipment, but challenges ensued as the facility and its staff grappled with privacy concerns and policies. Gavin Kerr, president and CEO, told The Morning Call that the facility is drafting a policy and will support residents' rights to cameras as long as they notify staff about their use.

While no U.S. state specifically bans private electronic monitoring, four (Texas, New Mexico, Washington and Oklahoma) allow some form of it. Maryland hasn't promulgated any law, but did give nursing homes a green light to permit it if they wanted. Illinois and Missouri are considering proposals, according to the newspaper.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Association has not yet addressed the issue.