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Banning Cameras at Birth

I'm sure most of us have already weighed in on Meritus Medical Center's ban on cameras (of any kind) in labor and delivery, allowed to turn on no earlier than five minutes after the birth.

"On Nov. 1, Meritus Medical Center implemented a policy prohibiting video, film and still photography of deliveries until five minutes after birth. The change is intended to protect patient privacy and reduce potential staff distractions, said Jody Bishop, administrative director of the department that includes the hospital's birthing center."

They go on to blah blah blah about patient safety -"The intent is for the physicians and midwives and staff to be able to focus on the delivery itself and on the safety of the mom and baby."

Yeah, like anyone believes that.

Today, I finally read an article that included commentary by a medical malpractice attorney. Brian McKeen says (on ABCnews.com):

"There's no question in my mind or in the minds of other colleagues who I've worked with on the obstetrical side that hospitals are doing this so as not to have a piece of evidence generated that can be used against them in a court of law," McKeen told ABC World News. "They do it to hide the truth."

"...video and photos from a delivery can help in deciding a medical malpractice case.

"It may show that the physician complied with the standard care and engaged in all the appropriate maneuvers, or it may show the physician did not engage in the appropriate maneuvers and or used excessive force and caused the birth injury," he said.

McKeen said that if a patient isn't permitted to photograph or videotape a birth when they want to, they should find another doctor.

I agree.

While I suspect most people don't want to be filmed while they work, I'd venture a guess to say most people are taped on their jobs. Might being taped change one's behavior? Isn't that something many/most of us would like to see in hospital births?

Can you imagine?!

Obstetric violence would plummet. Strong-arming would virtually disappear. Snotty comments would be replayed on YouTube.

Women might actually be treated humanely.

Imagine that.

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Reader Comments (14)

Protect patient privacy? LOL. Thats the goofiest thing i've heard! if I asked my husband, mom, friend, etc to film/record my labor/delivery, then I think it would suffice to say that I'm ok with it.

If someone in the med field has a problem being "caught on tape" then it would probably be best for them to find another job where they are not part of a much anticipated, celebrated arrival that is almost always desired to be caught on film.

Shame on the hospitals.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

If OBs were taped at their jobs, then My OB said What?!? would have a video section....and maybe there would then not need to be a website like myobsaidwhat.com, for there would be nothing to post!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMy OB said What?!?

This really bothered me about our local hospitals. The one that is touted as being so great to birth in bans video in the LDR rooms. It just made it seem like they had something to hide. It didn't matter to me ultimately, (and I'm not one to want to do a video anyway), because I wasn't there long enough to care (20 minutes before baby was born), but it just reinforced my decision to birth at home next time.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersara

Funny, because one of the midwifes attending the birth of my son was the one TAKING photos of my birth and she wasn't distracted one bit.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjessica montalino

I couldn't agree more, that this ban smacks of wanting to be sure there is no photographic evidence of malpractice. Anyone who has been to lots of births knows that sometimes, some people might get in the way of care in their zeal to get great shots - and also knows that a simple explanation of the problem and request to relocate/adjust is all it takes. Denying everybody else the chance to have pictures of the birth, just because of something that isn't likely to happen, is not only ridiculous, it is mean. But what a great way to get the word out that this is not a family-friendly hospital... i do hope women will be able to vote with their feet!

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

As you probably are well aware, Barb, it's hard to find an actual hospital birth *video* on youtube. (as in, an actual video, not just a photo montage put to music.) Of the ones I've seen, several are great...and the others are horrendous. One about made me sick to my stomach. Mom was laying on her side in bed, trembling, and the OB waltzes in and says matter-of-factly, "Roll her to her back. Put her legs up in the stirrups." And the nurses have to coax the mom to her back while doc takes charge of that room. "Ok, hon, scoot your bottom down...keep going, ok stop," he says to her, as if she's laying on an exam table about to have a pap smear! At one point during her pushing, he said, "here let me do the work for you now, this is the hard part" while he pulled aggresively on the baby. I couldn't even quite wrap my head around what I saw. Not that I was somehow naive or anything, but just saddened and sickened by it. Sadly, I know there are FAR worse experiences that women and babies have been on the receiving end of.

My OB willingly welcomed my doula to take photos during my c-section...and not just of my head or my baby. She asked his permission if she could come around the drape before my baby was born to take pictures and he said, "Sure! Come on over!" She was treated so respectfully and given full permission to photograph whatever she wanted! I have gorgeous photos of her entire birth, close-up. I absolutely cherish those photos of my daughter's birth. Likewise, for my 1st birth, my doula (a different doula in a different state) also took beautiful, close-up photos of the birth.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDelightfulBirth

Decades ago I had an OB who refused to give parents videos of their US a clearly stating that all that taping might not be safe and that he didn't want to be liable for something someone else detected 5-10 years later that a radiologist missed today.
Appreciated his honesty and also respected the fact that he was not keen on US being done just to be done.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBliss

Hospitals have been banning cameras at births here in S. Florida for years...I got yelled at for trying to take a picture of a baby in the nursery whose mom was recovering from an emergency c-section, I wanted her to at least see a picture of him and see he was perfectly fine since her section was pretty scary.

It is all about liability.

There's a law firm that's advertising here in S. Fl about birth injuries, cerebral palsy and brachial plexus, shoulder dystocia, basically saying it's the care provider's fault, medical negligence, etc.

One of my dad's has on film the L&D nurse bulb suctioning his baby, the nurse inserts the bulb into the baby's mouth/nose, squeezes, then releases. I almost crapped my pants when I saw it.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterColleen, LM

The hospital where I had my son five years ago banned video but had no restrictions on still photography. I wasn't at the hospital by choice and didn't own a video camera, so it was all a bit moot, but it never occurred to me there was any reason for the restrictions other than liability. I guess it sounds bad, though, to be too explicit about it, what with all the soft-focus advertising for the maternity wards.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchingona

I'm a paramedic; we get filmed at work all the time, and then see ourselves on the 5 o'clock news and we're all, "WTH? I didn't see/hear a helicopter, did you?!??!!" Talk about scrutiny, lol!!! But it just makes me do my job better, so I concur: bring in the cameras and hold care providers accountable! Imagine that.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I am filmed at my job, I don't mind so much.

I work at Louisville, Ky UPS main hub, we are Huge! I load aero planes on the ramps. The number one accident is when the dolly train breaks free from the tug/tractor and goes flying down the ramp to crash into anything. The biggest cost from this was when a dolly broke off and rammed into the engin of an A300/AirBus. Cost 1.4 million dollars of damage. We are taught over and over to check or hitch pins the number one reason dollies detach. I am glad the camras watch me check my pins, if you lose yours dollies you are fired on the spot. Only way to get your job back is if the pins are obviously faulty or you are seen checking your pins. Makes me want to get out to check my pins.

Oh and it's embarrassing to be caught sleeping on the job!

January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKianiWaters

My doula got out the camera when I was pushing and the doctor told her she "couldn't" take pictures even though there was no hospital policy against it. She rolled her eyes, turned the flash off and kept taking pictures- with him none the wiser :P

BTW this doctor was a complete douchebag the entire time.

April 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

I just have to chime in a little on this one. I ended up having a unplanned c-birth with my son a few months back. We were encouraged to take photos and my hubby even video taped the birth. I treasure that video and share it with anyone who is willing to watch.

The only rule that my hubby had in the OR was to avoid touching anything blue (that was the easiest way for the staff to inform him of the sterile area...).

Aside from the nurses cleaning up the little guy right after birth, I was the first to hold him (I would say that it was with in a minute or so). One of the nurses then took our camera so that we could get our first family photo!

Prior to having my son, I was told by a coworker how she wasn't able to video tape her birth... I was already to fight for my right as a patient to do things my way... but lucky for me, I didn't have any issues!

The advise that I give everyone (I actually work in the medical field...) is know your rights as a patient and fight for them!!! You are the patient and the doctor works for you...

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrnmama

I agree..I think you given a very good advice here..Banning cameras during birth is good for mother and baby..I think after reading your article number of people think twice before using cameras.
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January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlaurahill

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