Most of your readers have probably seen news reports about people who have suspected a family member living in a nursing home is being abused and have installed covert security cameras to detect the person guilty of the abuse. This, of course, subjects the nursing homes to liability for any abuse inflicted by their employees.
The Wyoming Legislature, in this year’s budget session, adopted a statute that indirectly protects nursing homes from liability for any abusive actions by their employees by restricting the collection of necessary evidence. In essence the statutes makes it illegal for people who suspect that one of their family members is being assaulted or otherwise abused from installing security devices in their family member’s room without the consent of nursing home management.
There is no exception for law enforcement officials, other governmental officials (such as Family Services or Department of Health), or private investigators that are investigating an allegation of abuse. Nor is there an exception for a nursing home resident who is the sole occupant of a room.
It requires that someone who wants to install a security devise to obtain the consent of management and post a sign by the resident’s door warning the perpetrator that the security device is being used. The device must be “conspicuous and in plain view." There is no exception for situations in which the person perpetrating the abuse may be part of management whose approval is required for the installation of the device. It allows, but does not require, the nursing home to install security devices in public areas, if there is a warning by the front door, and it does not require security devices in nonpublic areas such as laundries, pantries or other areas where residents can be taken for abusive treatment.
The nursing home is protected from liability from invasion of privacy lawsuits if it installs security monitors. The statute also indirectly protects the nursing home from liability for their employees’ abusive treatment of residents by precluding the collection of essential evidence without giving notice to the perpetrator. The statute is Wyoming Statute Sections 35-2-1301 through 35-2-1308.