Hidden cameras show apparent abuse inside South Florida nursing homes

More and more family members are placing hidden cameras inside rooms to monitor the quality of care of their loved ones at nursing homes.

Local 10 News obtained disturbing images of what can happen inside the walls of a nursing home. There is renewed debate over the issue following the death of 13 people from a nursing facility in Hollywood during Hurricane Irma.

Video recorded inside a Pompano Beach room of a 94-year-old man with dementia who is unable to speak are cringe-worthy.

Video shows a certified nursing assistant forcefully trying to get the man off the bed. She sends him free-falling into a chair and then hits him on the head.

In another clip, the nursing assistant is seen dousing him with mouthwash.

"Mouthwash has alcohol in it, and you keep pouring that on a guy's skin and he's going to wind up with ulcers and bedsores from dry skin, and that is exactly what happened to this man who had stage three ulcers -- what proved to be fatal," Blake Dolman, who represented the man's family in a lawsuit against the nursing home, said.

The hidden camera was placed in the elderly man's room by a concerned daughter, who said it caught her worst fears.

"That video still haunts me," Dolman said.

"If you look at his body language, if you look at the placement of his hands, everything he is doing is trying to protect himself," Dolman said. "She's angry. Ninety-nine percent of the time the nursing home says, 'No, that didn't happen,' and we spend years litigating to find out whether it did or didn't happen."

The video in that case was so valuable it made what happened unquestionable.

"It saved the judicial system time," Dolman said. "It saved the attorneys time. It saved everyone involved time."

A hidden camera video taken inside a South Florida nursing home shows a worker sleeping as an alarm indicating something is wrong in a patient's room is clearly blaring.

In another hidden camera video, a patient's breathing tube appears to be removed by a nursing assistant. She appears to do nothing, despite alarms going off. She even reenters the room again after leaving. Five minutes go by until other employee comes in, sees the tube is disconnected and flips out.

That nursing assistant claims she knew nothing about what happened, even though the video shows otherwise.

Could cameras have alerted someone to do something faster in Hollywood after Hurricane Irma, when 14 nursing home patients died?

Six states -- Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington -- allow the use of video monitoring.

"I believe that the state of Florida should not only allow cameras in nursing homes, but require that residents should be presented with the option or the right to have cameras in their rooms," said attorney Don Fann, who has spent more than 20 years representing and defending nursing homes. "I know how nursing homes operate from the inside out."

Fann now uses his expertise to sue them.

"Part of the problem is that the staff didn't want to be observed," he said. "They didn't want to have that pressure, and that is ridiculous. These facilities, when they have to defend one of these cases, it's expensive, I know. I have years and years of being on that side of it. Stop one significant case and you will pay for all of it."

In 2012, a bill in the Florida Legislature that would allow the use of cameras died in committee.

The Florida Health Care Association, which represents 550 of the state's 683 nursing homes, is against cameras.

Local 10 News asked and had several interviews set up the association and some of its members. They were all canceled.

However, in a statement to Local 10 News, a spokesperson said, "The use of surveillance cameras carries a number of challenges, and we must remember that cameras observe, they do not protect. Cameras provide access to footage of residents in their most intimate moments. Even if proper consent is obtained by one resident, the issue becomes complicated when there are roommates involved."

Several state legislators said they are researching the issue, but at this point, no bills have been filed for the upcoming legislative session.

The state of Florida revoked the license of the the certified nursing assistant who was accused of abusing the 94-year-old man. Family members said they didn't want to pursue criminal charges against her.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.