Is this legal? What are the nurse's rights on privacy in the workplace?


Last week I discovered that a spouse of one of my patients has a tape recorder in the room & has been recording staff when they come in the room. The spouse also writes down every single thing we do in the room & has been very accusatory, forgetful, argumentative & agitated towards staff. 3 nurses have seen her with the recorder and the other nurses heard themselves on it when the spouse hit the play button by mistake.

I spoke to a supervisor about this and found out that management is well aware of it yet has done nothing about it. I think its illegal to record us without our knowledge or permission. If this spouse were to take this to court for whatever insane reason, it wouldnt stand most likely. I dont understand the reasoning behind it because there has been nothing to my knowledge to warrant this. The spouse stays 24/7 & is extremely suspicious of everything we do & has made countless complaints & accused staff of not checking on the patient, even though this spouse has assisted with care many many times & watches us like a hawk to the point that its more of a burden than a help.

Also, after talking to the supervisor it was brought to my attention that the spouse has also smacked the patient several times demanding that they get up and walk, talk and eat etc...the patient is the victim of a massive devastating stroke that has taken most of their abilities away from them, making it impossible to return to what was a normal lifestyle 3 months ago. They have done nothing about this alleged smacking either except threaten the family with a call to DSS. I thought that if they knew of "abuse" it was to be reported immediately to a higher power...even it was just suspected abuse. This spouse has done this in front of 3 different staff members according to the supervisor.

My question is this, is it legal for this spouse to be recording us? When I go in the room I dont ever go alone...none of us do. I document every single time i go in and what Ive done etc. I just dont appreciate being recorded with no good reason and without my permission. Should management not have stepped in and did something about this privacy violation to its staff? Are nurses (and c.n.a's) not supposed to have some type of privacy protection in their place of employment?

Please note, all the spouses accusations and complaints prior have been unfounded according to the supervisor I spoke with.


38,333 Posts

I worked at a facility where I was told of recording that was ongoing. This happened long after I started working there and I was told by another CNA (was a CNA when I started), not a nurse or supervisor. I was very upset, to say the least.

Have worked on a home health case where I was told by another nurse where the parent had hidden the "nurse" cam.

Worked on another hh case where the parent made a big, very big production of the fact that they were going to introduce a recording camera and that they were going to keep video records of the nurses for legal purposes. I objected. My employer stated that they were fine with this and that I could leave the case if I did not agree. I left the case. NO WORK.

The employer stated that the home health clients have every right to record what goes on in their house. They do not have to inform anyone. If a nurse finds out this is going on, s/he does not have to work there. End of employment.

Whispera, MSN, RN

3,458 Posts

Specializes in psych, addictions, hospice, education.

Does your hospital have a legal department or person? I think I'd be contacting that person about your rights in this. I don't know what they are, and maybe they vary from place to place anyway.

Now, about the spousal abuse--that should be reported. Does your social worker get involved in such things? It's typical for an abuser to hover when the abused is being cared-for by someone else. Someone needs to do something even if the spouse gets angry, if you're suspicious there is abuse going on.


38,333 Posts

Based upon the abuse, if I were you, I would leave this employer. Do not jeopardize yourself for an employer that does not follow the law when it comes to reporting and dealing with abuse.

NamasteNurse, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 680 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics, Geriatrics, LTC. Has 8 years experience.

as health care providers we are all mandated reporters. someone had better get on the ball here.


250 Posts

In the hospital this should not be kosher, imo. But home health? I dunno. I've heard some horror stories of nurses abusing patients, etc. But I can't imagine going that far unless there were suspicions. And if there are suspicions, why not get rid of the nurse?

Flo., BSN, RN

571 Posts

Specializes in Developmental Disabilites,. Has 7 years experience.

I had a pt's family that was videotaping everything. We called secutiry and risk management. The family was escorted off of hospital property, not allowed to return and was made to delete the images they obtained.


38,333 Posts

In the hospital this should not be kosher' date=' imo. But home health? I dunno. I've heard some horror stories of nurses abusing patients, etc. But I can't imagine going that far unless there were suspicions. And if there are suspicions, why not get rid of the nurse?[/quote']

The clients would not get rid of the nurse when their goal is to make money.


250 Posts

This is true, calliotter3.

Specializes in PICU, ICU, Hospice, Mgmt, DON. Has 18 years experience.

Is this a LTC? Still call the Legal dept if there is one. And please call the elder abuse hot line...can be done anon...get this person some help...the pt not the crazy spouse..although it sound like they need help too. I have no patience for abusers--whether they are elder, child or animal abusers...they need to be dealt with harshly, by the law.

Specializes in Vascular Access, Infusion Therapy.

In public there can be no reasonable assumption of privacy therefore no right to protect against being recorded. Some states do prohibit public recording, depending, but most do not. The hospital being a private entity can make their own rules however but if they take Fed dollars then the rules do change, also depending.

If you practice reasonably, prudently, and act in a professional manner then you should have no worries.

allnurses Guide

Hygiene Queen

2,232 Posts

I don't know what state you are in.

Here in Illinois, it is a felony to audio record another person without their consent.

You can video record without sound.

It absolutely will not stand in court.

But that is in IL where politicians are known crooks and liars... and make sure the laws on eavesdropping and recording cover their butts, lol.