Should video camera and photographs be kept out of the delivery room? Hospitals and doctors think so.

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice
Should cameras and camcorders be permitted in delivery rooms in hospitals?  Most hospitals say "no".

Many hospitals bar all pictures and video during birth--cell phones must be turned off--and picture taking is only permitted after the delivery and the medical team has given permission.  Why, you ask, do most hospitals have such a rule?  Isn't it your right as a patient to take video and photographs of your delivery?

According to a New York Times article, the new rules barring video and photographs during delivery rose from a medical malpractice case in Illinois in 2007. The lawsuit involved a baby born at the University of Illinois Hospital with shoulder complications and permanent injury.  A video taken by the father in the delivery room showed the nurse midwife using excessive force and the video led to a $2.3 million settlement.  Needless to say, the video of the delivery was the key to the injured child's settlement.

Without a video showing the excessive force used by the nurse midwife during the delivery, the medical providers would have simply denied that any force, much less excessive force, was used during the delivery.  The delivery record prepared by the nurse midwife similarly would have sugar-coated the delivery in the most innocuous terms.  The video of the delivery prevented the inevitable coverup.

Cell phones have made video and photographs more accessible for patients and their families. With a smartphone, virtally anyone has a video camera at their disposal.  The video on a smartphone can be e-mailed to an audience within minutes after the delivery.  The question is whether it is good for patients to have the ability to video and photograph their delivery.

There are no national standards regarding cameras and videotaping in the delivery room, so each hospital has its own rules.  There is no national organization that tracks the hospitals that allow videotaping during delivery, so your best bet is to ask the hospital where you or your loved one plans to give birth.

What is the right thing for patients?  When there is a dispute about what occurred at the delivery, what better evidence can there be?  Videotaping of a delivery will remove all question as to what happened.  This is good for patients and doctors.  If an obstetrician or nurse midwife provided impeccable care during a delivery, why wouldn't they want a videotape to confirm their version of what happened?  Videotaping of a delivery (when desired by patients) is a win-win for patients and physicians.

When a patient makes the case that the obstetrician used excessive force to pull the baby from the birth canal, could the obstetrician have a better defense than a videotape showing mild traction (pulling) on the baby's head?  I think not.  When a patient claims that she had severe pain between contractions, what better evidence is there than videotape? 

Do you support a patient's right to videotape a delivery?  Understandably, many patients would not want a camcorder within a 100 miles when giving birth, but others have no qualms.  I want to hear from you. Tell me if you think videotaping in the delivery room should be permitted.

I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 866-889-6882 if you have any questions or want more information on this controversial topic.  You can always request a FREE copy of my book on the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientights.com.

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