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Some hospitals have banned photography during childbirth

In a move that is, at least partially motivated by the fear that photos and videos would end up in court during a medical malpractice case, some hospitals have begun banning cameras in delivery rooms. Photos and videos in these institutions are prohibited at least until after the baby has been delivered safely and the doctor says it is okay.

A recent article in the New York Times details one case it describes as typical. A family settled for $2.3 million with a hospital in 2007. The infant in that case had shoulder complications and was permanently injured. During the delivery, the father had captured video which apparently showed a nurse-midwife using excessive force. A video of an obstetrician's actions during a birth that involves delivery complications would very likely have an impact on a jury.

Some doctors however purport that the reasoning behind the ban goes beyond avoiding potential liability. Doctors interviewed in the Times article pointed to the need to be completely focused on the task at hand, and not be distracted by what one doctor described as a "media circus."

Other hospitals have gone in the other direction, encouraging patient's families to record the event, particularly now that cameras and even phones are much less obtrusive than video recorders in the past. Doctor Robert Barbieri from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston said that they hope that the families will record the birth for their own sake.

Doctor Barbieri explained that transparency is one of his hospital's goals and that if something goes wrong they try to immediately explain what happened. According to the doctor, "A video is not inconsistent with the goal of trying to be transparent."

Source: New York Times Cameras, and Rules Against Them, Stir Passions in Delivery Rooms KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, January 2, 2011

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