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Should recording equipment be allowed in delivery rooms?

Taping and photographing a child birth is a practice that parents have been engaged in since the advent of portable recording equipment. These recordings can provide parents with a keepsake of a monumental event in their family's life. Also, these recordings have provided some parents with the proof they needed to show that their child's birth injuries were caused by hospital wrongdoing.

However, some hospitals have been reevaluating their policies regarding the presence of cameras and video equipment in delivery rooms. Some hospitals have gone as far as to completely ban parents from taking photographs or video during a child's delivery.

Proponents of these measures claim that the prohibitions will ultimately benefit patients. Some claim that the presence of cameras can actually make deliveries less safe, as they could potentially distract medical staff. Thus, supporters of recording bans argue that the policies could help improve patient safety.

However, the bans also have their share of detractors. Many parents have become quite upset at hospitals which have instituted these bans. Some of the parents who oppose the prohibitions claim that the policies deprive them of their right to record the birth of their child.

There is another troubling aspect of these bans. It is possible that patient safety is not the main reason why some hospitals have instituted these policies. Rather, these bans may be driven by a desire to deprive patients of a potential tool that could be used in malpractice cases. There have been cases in the U.S. where recordings of a delivery were used to show that medical staff committed negligence during the procedure.

If this is the case, these bans could be a very negative trend. Parents should not be deprived of the chance to record the birth of their child because hospitals wish to make the process less transparent. If hospitals are worried about malpractice, they should not be making policies to make it easier to hide medical negligence. Rather, they should focus on policies that would actually reduce the occurrence of this negligence.

Thus, hospital policies which prohibit the recording of deliveries give rise to some important and troubling issues. One hopes that hospitals carefully consider these issues when thinking about changing their policies regarding this type of recording.

Source: The New York Times, "Cameras, and Rules Against Them, Stir Passions in Delivery Rooms," Katharine Q. Seelye, 2 Feb 2011

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