The Ethics of Hospital Surveillance Cameras

By: 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.

“They are recording patient care so they can show they did everything right,” he said. Secondary to that, he says cameras are used for general security from outsiders (people who aren’t supposed to be there) and insiders (people stealing drugs or contraband).

He also says patients wandering is a “huge problem” and cameras have been installed to keep track of where people wander off to.

Notification Required, Consent is Not

Caplan says in a hospital setting, people should always be aware of they are being watched or not.

“If you don’t put up signs saying there are cameras and if you don’t notify people then that’s unethical and you’re crossing a line,” he said. Caplan believes that people have an expectation of privacy in a hospital setting.

The cameras can be covert or overt, but the important thing is that people know they are there.

“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. A lot of things happening in a hospital is private an personal. Behaviors, diseases, bathing. You need to say if you’re watching,” he said.

But that extends beyond just private actions. Information recorded on video can also be protected by HIPAA if it deals with treatments, medications and care received in a hospital.

Hospitals do not have to get consent from the patient, however he said.

Differences in Cameras for Security vs. Patient Care

The differences are location and monitoring. Cameras in hallways and common areas are generally used for security while cameras in rooms and clinical areas are used for patient care.

Those cameras in hallways and common areas are generally linked to a central monitoring area like the security department and are monitored live and recorded. Cameras in patient rooms and clinical areas will sometimes have monitors on that floor, but generally don’t. Footage is recorded and stored for 60 days.

Doctor’s Offices

Caplan said most hospitals are adding cameras these days, however, he’s not sure how far the use of surveillance extends to private doctor’s offices.

Comments (3) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Axis Live Privacy Shield Analytics Tested on Jun 25, 2019
Privacy is becoming a bigger factor in video surveillance, driven both by increased public awareness and by GDPR. Now, Axis has released Live...
Chinese Police Wearing Facial Recognition Are Here on Feb 06, 2018
This is a very interesting and highly atypical usage of facial recognition that the Chinese government touted this week [link no longer...
Video Privacy Mask Tutorial on Feb 27, 2018
Privacy has historically been hotly debated in the surveillance industry, especially in public surveillance systems where cameras may be located in...
Genetec Privacy Protector Tested on Nov 12, 2018
Genetec has built Kiwi Security's Privacy Protector into Security Center, an analytic which anonymizes individuals in cameras' fields of view...
Facial Surveillance Used On US Politicians, Technical Challenges Remain on Jun 12, 2018
Many fear that facial surveillance will be used against people by governments, such as the vast facial surveillance apparatus being built in China...
Use Access Control Logs To Constrain Coronavirus on Apr 09, 2020
Access control users have included capabilities that are not commonly used that can help zero-in and discover potential Coronavirus hotspots in a...
Anti-Hack Access Card Shields Tested on May 26, 2017
Keeping your access control card information secure is becoming a big priority, especially since cheaper copiers can hack details easily. Multiple...
Camera Vandalism Statistics on Aug 01, 2017
Vandalized cameras are a common concern. And when they happen, they often draw media attention. But how often and how much of a problem is...
Genetec Kiwi Intrusion Detector Analytics Tested on Nov 27, 2018
Genetec has built Kiwi Security's Intrusion Detection analytics into Security Center, aiming to simplify deployment compared to separate camera...
HTTPS / SSL Video Surveillance Usage Statistics on Apr 01, 2019
HTTPS / SSL / TLS usage has become commonplace for websites to improve security and, in particular, to help mitigate attackers reading or modifying...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Avigilon ACC Cloud Tested on Jul 08, 2020
Avigilon merged Blue and ACC, adding VSaaS features to its on-premise VMS, offering remote video and health monitoring that was previously limited...
The US Fight Over Facial Recognition Explained on Jul 08, 2020
The controversy around facial recognition has grown significantly in 2020, with Congress members and activists speaking out against it while video...
Sperry West / Alibaba Tablet Temperature Measurement Tested on Jul 07, 2020
In April, we ordered a ~$500 temperature tablet from Alibaba. We set it to the side while doing 18 other temperature screening tests but, after...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of security systems integrators shows weak sales, opposition to...
Video Surveillance 101 Book Released on Jul 07, 2020
IPVM's unique introduction to video surveillance series is now available as a 145-page eBook. Designed for managers, salespeople, and engineers new...
Startup Duranc Presents AI VSaaS on Jul 06, 2020
Duranc presented its system at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from Duranc including IPVM Q&A Background on the...
Low Voltage Nation Wants to "Help You Carve Out A Fulfilling Career" Interviewed on Jul 06, 2020
It is difficult to make your way in this industry as there is little formal schooling. However, one person, Blake Urmos, the Founder of Low Voltage...
The Next Hot Fever Detection Trend - $100 Wall-Mounted Units on Jul 06, 2020
The first wave of the booming fever detecting market was $10,000+ cameras, now interest for ~$2,000 tablets is high and the next big thing may be...
Cisco Meraki Unlocks IP Cameras With RTSP Tested on Jul 06, 2020
Meraki opened up its cameras to 3rd party NVRs/VMSes by offering RTSP streaming because of "the need to solve a business problem". We tested...