The New York Times reported yesterday on a hot-button issue related to childbirth and medical malpractice. In a move that has angered many families expecting children, some hospitals have banned or restricted the use of cameras during the child delivery process. For many families early photographs and videotapes of the event are priceless memories that are cherished. However, others are not allowed the opportunity to capture those memories as some hospitals move to keep secret the goings-on of a delivery room medical staff.
What is perhaps shocking is that the main motivation for the ban has nothing to do with patient safety but doctor legal protection.
The story explains that the impetus for the rule in many places is the fear that when problems arise juries will be able to see the video. That is exactly what happened in an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit following the birth of a child at the University of Illinois hospital with shoulder complications and permanent injury. The father in that case had been recording the developing problems, capturing honest reactions from doctors and nurses about what went wrong and what “should” have been done. In that case, the jury ultimately awarded the victims $2.3 million for the medical errors.
One doctor said, “I openly admitted to my co-workers that I practice defensive medicine [and] take offense…that now I have to be videoed to prove that I’m providing good care.”
No national standards dictate the videotaping policy in hospital rooms, so hospitals are free to create a policy of their own. However, when openness and honesty are touted as the keys to superior medical care, there would seem to be nothing to fear from allowing families to tape the moment.
As one hospital’s obstetrics chairman that allows taping explained, “We’re trying to be as transparent as we can. If something goes wrong, we try to explain immediately what happened. A video is not inconsistent with the goal of trying to be transparent.”
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti believe simply in the goal of improving medical care for all patients at all times. There is clearly a medical safety problem with physicians do not want others to see the work that they do. If reasonable care is provided, than nothing is to be feared from allowing a family the opportunity to preserve that memory. Attempts to cover-up, hide, and skew the treatment process raises red flags. This reinforces the truth that the problem is with malpractice itself, not the lawsuits filed following the errors.
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