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Hospital Video Surveillance

Camera 2Should hospitals be required to notify patients that the patients may be subject to video monitoring?

Dr. Tim Lahey, the author of the New York Times article titled “A Watchful Eye in Hospitals” and chairman of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Bioethics Committee thinks so. Not only that, Dr. Lahey believes that hidden video cameras should be only a “last resort” and should only occur with the oversight of a hospital ethics committee.

The horse is out of the barn on this one. Society has become too Orwellian to retreat into an expectation of more privacy. Video monitoring occurs everywhere – courthouses, grocery stores, airports, spy drones, even many private homes. You’d be hard pressed to find any hospital in the nation that doesn’t already use some form of video surveillance. In fact, in the next 5-10 years I predict that audio or even video recording of patient encounters will become commonplace – much like police encounters are recorded now.

A proposal requiring hospital ethics committee oversight to use video surveillance when those committees typically meet four times per year (and some hospitals don’t even have ethics committees) is shortsighted and silly.

For the sake of argument, suppose that a notification of potential covert video monitoring is contained in the documents a patient signs when entering the hospital.
Is there some benefit that the notification provides to the patient?
Should a patient be able to refuse video surveillance? If so, shouldn’t the hospital be allowed to refuse medical care to patients that do not consent? Kind of like walking into an airport and refusing to be video recorded. If you don’t want to be videotaped, find another means of travel.

For now, smile … if you enter a hospital, you’re going to be on camera. Ethics committee approval notwithstanding.

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  1. In California, it is illegal to record a conversation with another person without informing them of it – unless you have a court order.

  2. Maybe not consent but notification / reminder(s).

    I hope it is also in areas such as recovery rooms. I was assaulted in one.

  3. Uh huh. I see the majority says “no notification” should be the norm.
    I’m calling them out as monumental morons, on a societal and historical level.

    And how long before they’re also being used to monitor staff efficiency, quality assurance, compliance with 1800-page P&P manuals, standards of care to the last comma and apostrophe, handwashing, nose-picking, and every good or goofy management scheme of unicorn farts and happy gas concocted to use any reason to throw staff members under the bus with extreme prejudice?

    If we’re going there, I want EVERY staff member to be issued a personal body-cam with sound recording, to document all interactions with colleagues, management, patients, family members, etc., which record shall be their sole personal property in perpetuity.

    Either EVERYBODY is under surveillance ALL THE TIME, or NO ONE is.
    I’ll agree to mine when we start this at the top and work down.

    For every good and prudent reason to wantonly violate a patient’s reasonable expectation of privacy, I can give you 50 reasons it’ll be used in draconian and Orwellian ways we don’t even want to think about.

    Doctor-patient consultation privacy privilege? Sorry, we need evidence, it’s national security/for your own good/for the children, so we’re going to butt-rape that up front, and you can sue down the road to get the already leaked information not released, if the hospital or your practice group will even back you up.

    Government-paid healthcare? All interactions are audited, ‘cuz it’s taxpayer money, and we suspect fraud, so that whole conversation about their pain, history of their injury/illness, and every detail of how they got that STD is now a public record subject to review by the IRS, prosecution for insurance fraud, perjury, drug abuse, child abuse, non-consentual mental health evals, and being shared with federal prosecutors, state attorney’s general, the DMV, and the local D.A., among others, and anyone else with a wild hare and a fishing license, not to mention to every hacker smarter than the government (which, by actual historical trends, is all of them, worldwide).

    If a hospital stay is going to be akin to a visit to a police interrogation room’s expectation of privacy (far beyond nil, it’s actually a media extravaganza!) or an interview with Barbara Walters, we’re going to have to do two things: issue all licensed staff badges and guns and make them sworn officers of the court, and then we’ll have to give a Miranda Rights warning to all patients upon entry in the lobby.

    That should do wonders for patient care and caregiver rapport, won’t it?

    But at least when staff gets assaulted, we can just open fire, right?

    There’s a place for cameras in patient care: it’s called the prison ward.
    If a patient needs that level of monitoring, they should be arrested and taken there in custody.

    If that isn’t appropriate, then you have your answer on putting Big Brother at the bedside.

    The really shocking thing is that it’s even up for discussion, and worse, everything I mentioned will go away as if someone used a Jedi mind trick on people, and convinced them it’s not really a big deal.

    You might as well just start walking around naked 24/7, and livecasting your every waking moment to YouTube now, just to get used to the Brave New World you’re preparing for yourselves and every generation that follows you.

    To favor this, you’d have to have no idea of the hellish all-encompassing gulag you’d build for us all, link by link, brick by brick, cell by cell, and camera by camera, until it’s too late to undo.

    • God, I love you.


    • Thank God someone out there sees all the aspects of this! People just don’t think things through. I’ve been around long enough to know the implications as employee and as a patient. I hate it.
      Thank you for laying it all out so well!

  4. Your premise of public places a private hospital room is not a public space but one where nudity occurs, cats are removed enigmas given. There is no real equivalence of your analogy. In short your argument is avsolurely stupid.
    You have the right to dend consent for anything.
    If the hospital refuses to treat you then they subject themselves to scrutiny at minimum and a malpractice lawsuit as worst case scenario. If anything happens to the patient because they would not treat the patient w/outa camera then liability would be crippling and the pr jib would need a Hollywood plastic surgeon to fix their image again.

    • You are correct, you do have the right to deny anything (that isn’t illegal). However, that right is extended to others as well. Others have the ability to deny treatment to you. If you walk into a doctor’s office and deny consent to remove your clothing for an exam, the doctor has a right to tell you to get out of his office and go pound sand.
      A hospital is required only to treat any emergency medical condition that it identifies. If you don’t have an emergency medical condition, then they have no obligation to provide you with anything. And the definition of an EMC is rather narrow: a condition that has a high likelihood of causing an imminent and serious threat to life or bodily function.
      Patients are already being video recorded when they walk into hospitals and walk through hospital hallways and probably don’t even realize it.
      Your medical privacy is being whittled away bit by bit. Like it or not.
      We’ll see if I’m wrong about recording patient visits. It happens with endoscopic procedures. I predict it’s only a matter of time until that use expands.

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