Are Surveillance Cameras Privacy Issues in Medical Clinics?
Security cameras in a private clinic can be an important part of a larger security system. However, if not installed with thought and sensitivity to the patients using the facility, a nurse attorney could be called in on an invasion of privacy lawsuit.
On the surface having a camera tuned into the comings and goings in a medical office seem to be a good idea as any office related to medicine can be a source of patient identity, medical supplies, and pharmaceuticals and drugs. On the other hand, there are those who would look for illegal uses of surveillance to gain access to a computer network with private information on patients and personnel.
Benefits of Surveillance Cameras
When a patient goes to a doctor’s office, a clinic, or a hospital they want to be assured that they are going to a safe place where the physicians and nurses can focus on their health needs and not be distracted with other issues. A surveillance system using cameras, bells, and other technology can provide a sense of security for the patient once they enter the building. Seeing a camera tucked into the corner of the hallway right above or near the elevator or stairway sends the message that the hallway is being watched and the people in charge know who is coming and going at all times.
Watching the hallway or waiting room at a clinic can be very beneficial to a patient for many reasons. One might be the case where a patient collapse in a hallway on the way to their appointment, or another might be where they pass out while sitting in a chair waiting for the doctor. This extra effort at surveillance can be lifesaving.
Other areas of a clinic that are important to supervise with cameras are file rooms and storage areas. It might also be important to place a camera on areas of the clinic where doctors and nurses handle the preparation of treatments and the disbursement of drugs and medicines.
Patient files contain a great deal of private information that a person acting for illegal reasons might obtain and steal credit card information or other information. Placing a camera in the storage area for medical supplies, medical equipment, and especially drugs is a wise move especially in a drug-conscious society.
Risks of Surveillance
Surveillance of public areas within clinics and hospitals is usually acceptable and welcomed by patients who use these facilities. However, in some cases, it is good practice to have the patient sign a consent form to make them aware that some areas are being watched.
In most cases HIPAA laws prevent specialized areas from having cameras. Patient changing rooms, examination rooms, or even operating rooms are off-limits, and violation of these areas can lead to invasion of privacy and the services of medical malpractice lawyers.
If the system for surveillance is interconnected with other communication and data system within the facility there is also the chance of a computer hacker gaining access to the system and all of the patient data and information held in the files.
In general practice, the installation of security surveillance cameras in medical clinics is a good idea, and it provides protection for the patients and the personnel who use the clinic. The risks for such surveillance can increase if the cameras are placed in locations that invade patient privacy, and these placements should be closely monitored.
At the Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we are experienced in identifying abnormalities and inconsistencies in surveillance systems so if you have a question or concern, especially if you feel your privacy has been compromised, contact us at cochranlaw.com or call 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529) for a free consultation.