Should hospitals ban camera phones?

And if the answer is yes, how will it be enforced?

A rash of incidents in hospitals across the country involving camera phones has led to firings — and the realization that monitoring the devices in clinical facilities is no easy task.

After sorting through red tape, a California hospital has fired nine employees who in April either took or looked at camera-phone photos of a patient’s X-ray. Meanwhile, at least three other hospitals across the country are struggling with similar problems.

“I think all hospitals in the United States are going to have to deal with (camera-phone use),” said Suellyn Ellerbe, chief executive officer of Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, California, a suburb north of San Diego. Photo-equipped PDAs, which doctors frequently use, pose special problems, said Ellerbe, whose hospital fired the nine workers.

Camera phones are a difficult privacy issue for medical institutions because regulations banning them — which already exist in many hospitals — are difficult to enforce. But high-profile cases may be spreading the word that taking pictures on the job can lead to unemployment.

View 3 Comments >

Most Popular

KevinMD logo - transparent