The Scan

Do You Allow Patients to Video?

An expecting new mother comes into your practice for a routine ultrasound exam. During the exam she pulls out her cell phone to capture a few photos and maybe a short video. What do you do?

As cell phone use has become ubiquitous, the AIUM has been receiving more and more calls and messages asking about cell phone use policies during obstetric exams. Practices are searching for guidance on how to set such a policy and what should be included.

To get a sense of how practices are dealing with this issue, last month, the AIUM sent a short survey to 1,652 individuals in 1,138 AIUM OB-accredited practices. Nearly 22% of recipients completed the survey.

Allow patients to record exams?

According to the results, 88% said their practice does not allow videotaping during OB exams. However, only 51% said their practice has a written policy that supports this.

Why Have a Policy?
Those practices that forbid or restrict videotaping do so for a number of reasons. Some of the most commonly cited reasons include:

Written policy in place?

Enforcement
While nearly half of AIUM-accredited practices stated they do not have a written policy, there are several ways in which patients are told or asked to refrain from videotaping. Those methods include:

Even using these methods, survey respondents acknowledge that enforcement is difficult because people still pull out their phones and hit record. Some practices do empower their employees by allowing them to stop the exam should a visitor not comply with the videotaping rules.

When Is It OK?
Of those practices that allow videotaping, most have rules about when and how it is allowed.

Even among those practices that forbid videotaping, some may be allowed. The typical exceptions are for deployed parents or foreign parents of a surrogate. Many practices mentioned that they try to avoid the videotaping issue altogether by stating their policy and then following that by telling the patient they will supply some pictures or short video clips.

What can you do?
If your practice is looking to set a policy or even seeking resources to support your policy, here are some items that might help.

In most cases, obstetric patients are not videotaping with ill intent. But as physicians and sonographers, there are legitimate and medical reasons to consider whether your practice should institute a policy on the use of videotaping equipment. While it can be a challenge to balance legal liability, best practice guidelines, and customer service, working with your staff, your legal counsel, and your customers, you can create a policy that works for all.