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Hospital camera bans claim to increase patient safety, part 2

Our last post highlighted a hot topic controversy over the presence of cameras and video recorders in hospital delivery rooms. Several hospitals nationwide have enacted new rules banning all recording technology in their birthing rooms, including cell phones. The restrictions are making some patients very upset, including one Maryland woman who began a popular online petition to have the ban removed from her local hospital.

Parents who support the petition claim that a hospital violates their parental rights when they take away their ability to photograph their own children. However, officials from hospitals that have embraced the ban assert that the presence of cameras and video equipment in the delivery room creates a distracting atmosphere for doctors and nurses. According to the hospitals, the ban protects patient safety by lowering the chance that a mistake made by a distracted doctor will cause a birth injury.

Medical representatives also state concerns that a video taken during the birthing process will later be used against them in court. Doctors worry that video evidence filmed by a parent may give a jury a limited and incomplete perception of what happened during a complicated delivery process.

However, other hospitals are actively accommodating families who want to film the birth of their children. Some hospitals even permit fathers who cannot attend the birth to watch it over Internet programs such as Skype. A representative from a hospital with camera-friend policies explains that they are embracing recording technology in an effort to be make their birthing procedures as transparent as possible.

So far, the Maryland mother's online petition has not caused her local hospital hospital to revoke their camera ban, but it has sparked a growing debate around hospital delivery room policies. Do camera bans really prevent birth injuries? Or are doctors sacrificing transparency and violating parents' rights by taking away their recording devices? We will continue to follow this debate as new updates develop.

Source: New York Times. "Cameras, and the Rule Against Them, Stir Passions in Delivery Rooms." Katharine Q. Seelye, 2 February 2011

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