Family wins camera case

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The Minnesota Department of Health ruled against a provider recently in a closely watched case involving a surveillance camera in a resident room.

The daughter of a nursing home resident filed a complaint with the state earlier this year after installing a camera in her mother's room, suspecting that inadequate care was taking place.

Facility staff balked about the camera's installation and reportedly unplugged it or covered it up with a towel at various times.

“This [case] is hopeful because it sends a nice, powerful message to the public that it's OK to put a camera in a room,” said Cheryl Hennen, the state's long-term care ombudsman, to the Star Tribune.

A spokeswoman for the facility in question told the newspaper it took “immediate action” to fix the complaint, but did not elaborate on whether cameras would now be permitted in residents' rooms.

The health department's finding of maltreatment was called significant by the Star Tribune because it was the first ruling to affirm residents' or families' rights to install cameras in long-term care rooms without fear of backlash from the facility. A backlog of cases also has compelled families to do more on their own. 

State law isn't clear on use of the cameras without provider permission.