Parents have been recording their children’s lives since the inception of technology. However, with the growing abilities of technology and the rise of successful medical malpractice lawsuits, hospitals are rethinking their policies. Up to this point, many health care professionals allowed recording the birth process because video cameras could be used without being in the way.
Many hospitals in New York are now changing the rules regarding recording devices allowed in the delivery room. In many places, cell phones and video cameras must be turned off, and pictures and videos are only allowed once the baby has been safely delivered. The hospital says their intent is not to limit the rights of new parents; rather, they are interested in protecting the rights of their staff, especially in lieu of recent medical malpractice lawsuits.
Video of a child’s birth introduces a wild card if it is presented to juries. What may have previously been a “he said, she said” argument between the parents and the hospital may now be recorded. Jury can witness first-hand how nurses and doctors responded to parents’ concerns or emergencies. Some hospitals attribute their ban on recording devices on the doctors’ need to focus. When there are flashing cameras or extra bodies moving around the room, it gets harder to concentrate.
Other hospitals have taken a more proactive approach, and they simulate the situation by recording their practice operations. One such doctor encouraged patients to record everything, stating that his goal is to be as transparent as possible. “If something goes wrong, we try to explain immediately what happened. A video is not inconsistent with the goal of trying to be transparent.” Everyone hopes their doctors will be so forthcoming, especially if mistakes lead to a birth injury lawsuit.
Source: The New York Times, “Cameras, and Rules Against Them, Stir Passions in Delivery Rooms,” Katharine Q. Seelye, 2 February 2011