Photography and videography have been allowed in many delivery rooms for decades.
But in recent years, so-called technology creep has forced some hospitals to rethink their policies as they seek to balance safety and legal protection against the desire by some new mothers to document all aspects of their lives, including the entire birth process, The New York Times reported.
There are no national standards regarding cameras in the delivery room, so each hospital sets its own rules, creating a patchwork of policies. No national organization, including the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Hospital Association, keeps track of how many hospitals allow photography, so it is hard to tell whether restrictions are on the rise, The Times reported.
Many hospitals allow and even encourage recording because modern cameras, particularly those taking video, are so unobtrusive. But that same technology has introduced a wild card into a fraught scene that could shock a jury — with the mother screaming and staff responding (or not) to what may look like an emergency — all of which can be edited to misrepresent what actually took place, the paper reported.
“Deliveries are complicated,” Dr. William C. Hamilton, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Meritus, said in an interview with The Times at the hospital, adding that no one wanted to be distracted. “I’m not a baseball catcher with a mitt, just catching a baby,” he said.
Added Dr. Erin E. Tracy, an obstetrician Massachusetts General Hospital that also bans cameras during births, “When we had people videotaping, it got to be a bit of a media circus."
“I want to be 100 percent focused on the medical care, and in this litigious atmosphere, where ads are on TV every 30 seconds about suing, it makes physicians gun-shy.”
Their concerns come against a backdrop of medical malpractice suits in which video is playing a role.
A typical case is one settled in 2007 that involved a baby born at the University of Illinois Hospital with shoulder complications and permanent injury; video taken by the father in the delivery room showed the nurse-midwife using excessive force and led to a payment to the family of $2.3 million.
Still, Laurie Shifler, who was recently barred by a Maryland hospital from taking photos of the birth of her eighth child, is incredulous.
“It’s about our rights…It's my child," said Shifler, who has begun an online petition drive against such policies. "Who can tell me I can take a picture or not take a picture of my own flesh and blood?"
Attorneys of Ross Feller Casey, LLP has built a remarkable record of victories in birth injury related cases, amassing a long list of seven- and eight-figure verdicts and settlements. They include:
•$22 million verdict in a birth injury case involving blood arriving late for a transfusion
•$12 million recovery in a birth injury case
•$8 million settlement for a child who suffered a brain injury due to a delay in delivery
•$7 million recovery for a child left with cerebral palsy as a result of obstetrical negligence
•$7 million settlement for a woman who died just after delivering a baby
•$6 million settlement for an infant who suffered brain damage because a nurse midwife and nurses failed to manage fetal distress during labor
•$5.5 million recovery for a child who was brain injured at birth because an obstetrician failed to recognize signs of placental abruption
•$5.5 million settlement for the family of a 23-year-old woman who died after giving birth to her daughter