Secret Surveillance Approved Inside Patient's Room

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Mar 26, 2014

The family of an elderly man found a hidden camera in his hospital room. Already frustrated from what they felt was substandard care, they were outraged when they noticed the camera in a fake smoke detector mounted to the ceiling.

It prompted both a VA investigation and the creation of a bill aimed at restricting cameras in veteran’s hospital rooms. The investigation uncovered emails and hospital records that show the hospital was concerned that his family members interfering with his care.

In this post we review the investigation and its impact on the use of surveillance cameras.


In 2012, the family of then 80-year-old Joseph Carnegie, found a hidden camera in his room at James A. Haley VA Medical Center. Carnegie’s son-in-law was the first to spot the camera. The family suspected the hospital installed the camera because they were considering suing for negligence. Here's why:

After going into a hospital for a blood sugar-related problem while on vacation he developed an IV infection. After improving and transferring to a VA hospital closer to home, the family says he suffered brain damage after food build-up from a feeding tube cut off his airway causing brain damage presumably from lack of oxygen.

The family threatened to sue the hospital, and shortly after the camera went up.

The VA hospital says it installed the camera to be able to monitor Carneigie’s health at all times and emails suggest the reason was to find out who, if anyone, was interfering with doctor’s orders. Someone was stealing medical equipment changing settings or tampering with his feeding tube.

The hospital wanted to know “who or what was ... changing the incline position of the patient’s bed, changing the rate of infusion on the patient’s feeding and medication pumps, and/or repositioning the patient.”

The last straw for them came after a June 8 incident:

The Camera

The camera purchased was a Vonnic C410W.

Hospital administrators originally said it was not meant to be a hidden camera “though they could not explain why they selected this particular model,” reported the Tampa Bay Times. The camera was live-monitored and recorded for 43 days before it was removed.

Emails examined as part of a VA investigation would later show the hospital didn’t want the family to know.

VA Findings

After the media caught on to the story, the VA Office of Inspector General initiated an investigation. It that found in the patient's medical record were reports of “supplies missing and settings changed to tube feeding, bed settings, suctioning/oxygen settings which they believe were done by the family.”

The VA ultimately determined that the hidden camera was justified and that patient consent was not needed because it was being used for treatment. It also determined that overall Carnegie received high-quality care from the hospital staff.

Other Findings

At the time of the investigation, no other VA hospitals reported using covert cameras, but seven admitted to using them in the past, but in conjunction with law enforcement investigations.

The investigation also revealed the video practices of VA hospitals. For example, VA hospitals recommend and are sometimes required to have cameras in certain areas, like entrances and exits, pharmacy areas and places where controlled substances are stored. In almost all cases there was signage that indicated cameras were present.

It surveyed 141 VA hospitals and found that 75 percent of them have cameras in clinical areas as well that are often monitored by medical staff. Ten centers reported recording both video and audio. These included jail facilities, mental health seclusion rooms and sleep labs.


The media attention also led to the drafting of legislation restricting the use of camera’s in VA hospital rooms. The legislation was drawn up around the same time the OIG released this report. In the wake up the report, which showed the hospitals concerns about the family, it never made it past committee.


What do you think?

Comments (4) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London police, but this time the system was thwarted by technical problems and...
London Live Police Face Recognition Visited on Feb 13, 2020
London police have officially begun using live facial recognition in select areas of the UK capital, sparking significant controversy. IPVM...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...
Kidnapping Victim Rescued With Video From Ring Doorbell Camera on May 24, 2019
A kidnapping victim was rescued within 24 hours, with the police crediting video from a Ring Doorbell camera as key to solving the case. A girl was...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...
San Francisco Face Recognition Ban And Surveillance Regulation Details Examined on May 14, 2019
San Francisco passed the legislation 8-1 today. While the face recognition 'ban' has already received significant attention over the past few...
Bastille Cell Phone Tracking Profile on Apr 30, 2019
Is tracking someone by their cellphone the next generation of surveillance? Bastille is a US startup which tracks people by their cellphone or...
Verkada Wins $783,000 Memphis Deal on Apr 29, 2019
The US city, most famous in video surveillance for standardizing on Hikvision, has issued an RFQ for 962 Verkada cameras due Wednesday, May 1,...
Casino Security Consultant Carl Lindgren Interview on Mar 26, 2019
For more than 20 years, Carl Lindgren worked as a casino surveillance pro, while being active (and sometimes outspoken) on various online video...
Large Hospital Security End User Interview on Mar 21, 2019
This large single-state healthcare system consists of many hospitals, and hundreds of health parks, private practices, urgent care facilities, and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

EyePark Presents Mobile Driver Authentication on Jun 05, 2020
EyePark presented its long-range QR code parking verification platform at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from EyePark...
Bleenco "Under The Tongue" Temperature Detection Examined on Jun 05, 2020
"Say aah", says Bleenco, a PPE detection video analytics company, offering a different method for measuring body temperature with a thermal...
Hikvision and Uniview Entry Level Thermal Handheld Cameras Tested on Jun 05, 2020
While most screening systems cost $10,000 or more, manufacturers such as Hikvision and Uniview have now released handheld models for $1,000 or...
Sequr Presents HID based Cloud Access Control on Jun 04, 2020
Sequr presented HID based Cloud Access Control at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from Sequr...
VergeSense Presents People Tracking Sensor on Jun 04, 2020
VergeSense presented its people tracking sensor and social distancing insights at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from...
FLIR A Series Temperature Screening Cameras Tested on Jun 04, 2020
FLIR is one of the biggest names in thermal and one of the most conservative. While rivals have marketed fever detection, FLIR has stuck to EST...
"Fever Camera" Show On-Demand Watch Now on Jun 03, 2020
IPVM has successfully completed the world's first "Fever Camera" show. Recordings from Both days are posted at the end of this report for on-demand...
Cobalt Robotics Presents Indoor Security and Access Robots on Jun 03, 2020
Cobalt Robotics presented indoor security robots at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from Cobalt...
Dahua Sues Ex-North American President, Says Legal Typo on Jun 03, 2020
Dahua's former North American President Frank Zhang claims he is owed almost $11 million but Dahua counter claims it is just a "scrivener's error",...
Smart Entry Systems Presents Cloud Multi-Tenant Access Control on Jun 02, 2020
Smart Entry Systems presented Cloud Multi-Tenant Access Control at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video...