some doctors banning cameras in the delivery room

Cameras have proliferated to an extent no one would have expected just ten years ago. Now it is common for many people to carry a camera at all times. Not just a camera, but a camera capable of taking a high-quality photo or of taking video footage. As cameras have grown in capability and shrunk in size, more cameras have made their way into hospital delivery rooms.

At first, most hospitals had no problem with cameras in the delivery room, as long as the equipment was small and did not get in the way, and didn’t distract medical personnel. Now, though, some hospitals are having second thoughts. A growing number of hospitals are banning photography during births, fearing that the videos could resurface as evidence in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Many patients are objecting on the basis that it is their right to record themselves and their babies. The event is one that cannot be recreated.

Hospitals counter that distractions in the delivery room threaten the health and safety of both the baby and the mother, and also that doctors and medical staff have a right to privacy. Most of them would rather not appear performing a delivery on YouTube.

But a bigger concern is medical malpractice litigation. In 2007, for example, a baby was born at the University of Illinois Hospital with shoulder complications and permanent injuries. The father had taken a video in the delivery room that showed a nurse-midwife using excessive force during the birth. The family sued and received a $2.3 million settlement.

Each hospital sets its own camera policies. There are no national standards on whether and when to allow cameras in the delivery room. No one has tracked how many hospitals have restricted cameras, so it is not possible to know how fast the trend is growing.

Some hospitals take the opposite approach, though. St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho, serves a large military population, so it is not uncommon there to have Skype connecting birthing mothers with soldier-fathers overseas.

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the hope is to be transparent. If something goes wrong in the delivery room, doctors try to explain immediately what happened. The doctors at Brigham and Women’s feel video is not inconsistent with that transparency.

Pennsylvania birth injury attorneys can understand a doctor’s desire not to be distracted during a complex medical procedure. But when the motive is purely to head off potential medical malpractice actions, something is suspicious. Doctors who are providing a high standard of care should have nothing to fear from a record of them providing that care.

Source: New York Times “Cameras, and Rules Against Them, Stir Passions in Delivery Rooms” 2/2/2011

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