Lights, Cameras ... But No Videos in the Delivery Room
Blame it on malpractice lawyers, but hospitals across the country are facing the tough decision of whether or not to ban cameras that can track every nuance of the delivery (and provide detailed evidence of any possible wrong-doing), The New York Times reports.
In a 2007 case, for example, the University of Illinois Medical Center was forced to pay $2.3 million after a video showed a nurse using excessive force, according to The Times.
A growing number of hospitals have begun banning the practice of videotaping, citing the distractions it causes in the delivery room, not to mention the fact that physicians and nurses aren't too keen about popping up on YouTube or Facebook, the newspaper says, reporting that one physician likened the experience to "a media circus."
But hospitals report they are getting push back from parents who claim it is their parental right to capture the moment on tape.
"It's my child," Laurie Shifler tells The Times. "Who can tell me I can take a picture or not take a picture of my own flesh and blood?"
Expecting her eighth child, Shifler says tells the newspaper she was so upset about her hospital's policy to ban videotaping that she started an online petition, getting hundreds of signatures from supporters.
Physicians, however, say the issue is not about rights, but rather the health and safety of the baby and mother, along with protecting the privacy of the medical staff.
"Deliveries are complicated. I'm not a baseball catcher with a mitt, just catching a baby," Dr. William C. Hamilton, chairman of obstetrics at Meritus Medical Center, which bars photos at birth, tells The Times.
The Hagerstown, Md. hospital bars all pictures and videos, plus cell phones must be turned off during the births, the newspaper reports. Photo shoots must wait until the baby has been delivered safely, as declared by the medical team.
Mike Matray, editor of the Medical Liability Monitor, a newsletter based in Chicago, tells The Times the issue is heating up at hospitals.
"I have certainly heard this issue discussed more often than I ever have previously," he says. "And it's certainly true that some risk managers in hospitals are advising doctors to stop allowing video in the delivery room."
But many other hospitals are taking the opposite approach and accommodating families (except during cesarean sections or if complications arise). St. Luke's Boise Medical Center in Idaho, which serves a large military population, even uses Skype to connect mothers with soldier-fathers overseas.
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