Patients secretly filming doctors a growing trend

Nov 30, 2012 | News

Views differ on whether videotaping in health care is a positive development, and some hospitals say it undermines the patient-medical worker relationship.

By Kelly Snider

Smile hospital staff, you might be on camera as a growing number of patients are videotaping their visits.

Sally Bean, a Sunnybrook bioethicist, told Humber News a lack of trust between patients and healthcare staff could be a factor in the monitoring doctors, nurses, and other staff.

“There’s been an increase in incidents of patient or family members recording interactions with healthcare providers without their consent,” said Bean.

According to the National Post, people have used smartphones, point-and shoot cameras and video recorders concealed in objects such as clocks and teddy bears, to secretly record health-care workers.

Bean said incidents like these have happened at Sunnybrook.

“One type of example would be a patient videotaping the nursing station because of the noise level, and use that evidence to complain.”

However, not everyone believes that a lack of trust is a reason why the videotaping has been increasing.

Sholom Glouberman, head of the Patient’s Association of Canada, said he thinks there isn’t a greater loss of trust in health care, than there has been in the past.

“Now they have technology that can help them display what is actually going on,” said Glouberman. “I think people have been losing trust in the health-care system over a long period of time, I don’t think that this is new.”

The following chart shows over the years, the percentage of Canadians who were satisfied with healthcare received has increased.



Glouberman says the advantage to videotape visits is having a better record of what has gone on.

“Sometimes people are not very clear about things and get quite nervous during their visits with the doctor.”

Glouberman said allowing videotaping would keep hospital staff on their toes.

“I think that patients should have the right to do it and it should be encouraged by hospitals.”

Bean said Sunnybrook is revising their policy on videotaping.

“What we are proposing is that it can’t be done without expressed consent. When videotaping does occur and staff find out, they feel invaded, betrayed and hurt,” said Bean.

“It’s not necessarily respecting the privacy of health-care staff to do it without their consent.”

Bean advised instead of videotaping, if patients need the information from their visits, they could ask permission to record, take notes or simply inform the doctor, and patients with issues should talk to the staff directly.