There’s an uproar about the use of cameras and video recorders in the delivery room and it’s not because some women who’ve just given birth are wary of seeing their disheveled, hospital-gown clad selves on Facebook. Hospitals have begun to rethink their policies about letting people take pictures and videos in the delivery room in the wake of concerns about these being used as evidence in malpractice suits.
Also, while parents may be eager to share the birth of a child as soon as they might with families and friends, hospitals are grappling with how, as the New York Times puts it, “to balance safety and legal protection against the desire by some new mothers to document all aspects of their lives, including the entire birth process.”
Currently there are no national standards about cameras or video recorders in the delivery room. Each hospital sets its own policies with some (like Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, Maryland; Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; Georgetown University Hospital in Washington has a similar policy.) not allowing any pictures during birth while others (St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho) giving women the option of using Skype to connect with their husbands who may be soldiers overseas. The New York Times sums up the dilemma facing hospitals:
Many hospitals allow and even encourage recording because modern cameras, particularly those taking video, are so unobtrusive. But that same technology has introduced a wild card into a fraught scene that could shock a jury — with the mother screaming and staff responding (or not) to what may look like an emergency — all of which can be edited to misrepresent what actually took place.
In a 2007 case, video taken by the father in the delivery room served as evidence for a malpractice lawsuit. The baby was born at the University of Illinois Hospital with shoulder complications and permanent injury; the nurse-midwife was shown to have used ‘excessive force’ and the family won a settlement of $2.3 million.
As obstetricians are sued more often than doctors and pay insurance premiums that are among the highest, the threat of lawsuits is ‘not new.’ Nonetheless, cameras in the delivery room can affect other medical staff who, knowing that they are on ‘candid camera,’ may change their own behavior. California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco does allow filming. Its chairman of obstetrics and gynecology , Dr. Elliott K. Main, notes that medical staff do ‘drills and practice’ involving the videotaping of simulated births. ‘”Where you get into trouble is where people panic or don’t know what to do next and have blank looks on their faces,”‘ Dr. Main notes.
We were still using a camera with actual film (that you had to insert in the back of the camera…..) when our son Charlie was born in 1997. My husband snapped two photos of just-born Charlie and me (rather unkempt, after almost 24 hours of labor) and they are the first I placed in Charlie’s baby album. Personally I don’t think I would have wanted photos, much less video, of the actual birth process. The whole experience is stamped clearly upon my mind; I love to look at the photos of just-born Charlie (and to laugh at myself as I, quite frankly, looked like a mess). But the image of him as a just-born baby I like the best is the one in my mind’s eye, of my first glimpse of a long-legged, black-haired and dark-eyed and shiney-damp boy being carried by the doctor.
Would you object to cameras being banned from the delivery room, or their use limited to after the birth of a baby? Have we become over-dependent on digital devices to record the most precious moments of our lives, to the point that we might overlook something important in our haste to capture it all on our edevice and upload it to share?
Photo by edenpictures.