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Lights, Camera – Litigation? Filming in Delivery Rooms Causes Concerns About Possible Lawsuits

Ever since my son was born, my wife’s kept her cell phone handy at all times – mostly to capture every laugh, cry, meal and stumble. While I admit I’m sometimes baffled by her behavior, I also have to admit she’s captured some pretty cool moments – moments we would’ve lost forever, had it not been for her lightning-quick camera skills.

More parents filming the delivery of their child

Apparently we’re not the only parents who are extra camera-happy, when it comes to our kids.  A recent article in the New York Times, called “Cameras, and the Rules Against the Them, Stir Passions in the in Delivery Rooms” discussed parents’ strong resistance over new rules banning cameras in delivery rooms.

Medical facilities to make their own rules

Currently, according to the article, there are no national standards regarding the presence of cameras in delivery rooms. Doctors quoted in the article say cameras in delivery rooms add an extra layer of distraction to an already complex situation.

“Deliveries are complicated,” said Dr. William C. Hamilton, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, MD. “I’m not a baseball catcher with a mitt, just catching a baby.”

“When we had people videotaping, it got to be a bit of a media circus,” added Dr. Erin E. Tracy, an obstetrician at Massachusetts General Hospital. “I want to be 100 percent focused on the [patient’s] medical care.”

While I can understand doctors’ concern about reducing the “circus-like” atmosphere, I think the real reason hospitals are banning cameras is to reduce the risk of possible litigation. The Times article discussed several situations in which delivery room footage was used as evidence in subsequent  medical malpractice lawsuits.

Are medical facilities banning cameras out of fear?

As a medical malpractice lawyer, I feel like the increase in photography bans is just another attempt by the medical establishment to make the prosecution of legitimate cases more difficult. As doctors well know, a photograph or video of a specific situation can be far more revealing of the truth than stacks of records prepared by hospital physicians.

And yet, wouldn’t the flip side also be true, that doctors could use a so-called “negligent” video in their own defense?

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