The Ethics of Hospital Surveillance Cameras

Author: Carlton Purvis, Published on Apr 04, 2014

We recently examined a case where a hospital came under fire for placing a hidden camera in a patient’s room. We talked to NYU’s Division of Medical Ethics Director Arthur Caplan on the ethics of using cameras in hospital settings.

Why More Hospitals are Adding Cameras

The main reason is because hospitals are trying to protect themselves from litigation, Caplan says.

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Comments (3)

“It’s important to notify people because people may engage in intimate acts, including sex in the hospital and they don’t realize someone is watching." Lol, it's a hospital, not a hotel. We put camera's in our storage rooms because equipment was being stolen, but ended up catching a couple of staff members taking advatage of the spare beds. I'm still scarred from that incident.

From a patient montioring standpoint, we don't have any camera's in patient rooms with the exception of our sleep labs. We have discussed limited use in ICU and mental health, but would require patient consent before monitoring. We have signs up at entrances as a deterance more than anything, as I can't imagine anyone thinks that they aren't being montored in a public space.

Dustin,

Thanks for the feedback. For the incidents where the staff where 'taking advantag of the spare beds', what did you do? Ignore it?

Are you concerned about such information getting out? i.e., someone who monitors the systems gossips and tells other employees "Hey I saw Bob and Mary in the storage room last night..."

John,

I'm in IT, so I just maintain the system and help the security director when they need to save files for evidence as our current system doesn't work well frequently. Any reporting for disciplinary action would have been done by the security department.

With almost 50% of America's carrying a smartphone, street camera's, city surviellance, and building surviellance, you might as well accept the fact that you have no expectation of privacy once you leave your home with very few exceptions. The couple knew the building is under constant surviellance and are staff members, not patients or public, so they have no expectation of privacy in a room they aren't supposed to be in, committing numberous policy violations. As with doing anything your not supposed to be doing, half the fun is the chance of getting caught, but if you get caught there are consquences, and public ridicule is often one of them.

All that said, I'm by no means a prude, quite the opposite, I consider our public decency laws antiquated and counter productive when we senstationalize violence and vilify human sexuality. Might make for a happier and more productive workforce if we were all so lucky on break. ;)

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