The hidden--and not so hidden--risks of video surveillance in the OR

The recent revelation that a San Diego hospital secretly videotaped hundreds of operations to catch the clinician responsible for taking sedatives from anesthesia carts, has opened up the organization to allegations of patient privacy breaches and credibility issues.

It has also turned into a public relations nightmare for Sharp Grossmont Hospital, which earlier this month issued an apology for releasing 14 video clips that showed women undergoing obstetric surgery, MedPage Today reports.

The patient privacy risks--and the fallout--are not worth the potential benefit of catching a drug diverter, according to experts interviewed by the publication.

Clinicians may not want to work for the institution as a result of the revelation, the hospital has lost credibility and it has opened itself to patient lawsuits, according to the publication.

Officials from the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS), told MedPage Today that Sharp's decision to secretly record the operations was the wrong way to handle the missing drugs issue. In addition to HIPAA violations, the hospital is now vulnerable because the surveillance may record evidence of other inappropriate activities that could be used in lawsuits. For example, it may record a doctor dropping an instrument or a patient falling off a table, said IAHSS Vice President Ben Scaglione.

And even if the hospital obtained informed consent for the procedures, he said the boilerplate language didn't give the organization the right to record women while they underwent surgery.

Scaglione recommends better strategies for hospitals that are on the lookout for drug diverters. Instead of secret video surveillance, the article suggests hospital administrators interview staff, compare work schedules with the times the drugs are discovered missing, check social media sites, sign in sheets, logs and records on the use of anesthetic drugs.

To learn more:
- read the article

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