Last year, we wrote about a successful medical malpractice case by a patient who recorded his own colonoscopy. The legality of video and audio recordings is a contentious topic in healthcare, as laws are drafted allowing patients, nursing home residents, and families to record their care. Our team of medical malpractice lawyers report on one of the most recent developments in Indiana, as the state weighs a Bill that would give patients the right to choose to have their surgeries recorded.
House Bill 1335 was authored by Representative Terry Goodin and is now pending before the Committee on Public Health. The full text of the Bill can be found here, on Indiana General Assembly’s website.
The Bill would require certain health facilities to provide patients with an option to have their surgeries recorded with full color and audio. If a patient is incapacitated, their guardian or representative would decide for them. If a patient opts for recording, they must provide a written statement signed by a witness. Patients under Medicaid would have their recordings covered through the program.
Arguments for Both Sides
The permissibility of audio and video recordings in healthcare settings is vexing legislatures, patients and hospitals nationwide. In August 2015, Illinois passed a law that allowed cameras in nursing home resident’s rooms. The Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Facilities Act was championed as a safeguard against abuse and neglect, particularly useful for families who live out-of-state or suspect insidious behavior.
Similarly, advocates of the Indiana Bill believe it will keep doctors accountable and ultimately help them and their teams learn from errors. On the other hand, some hospital and doctor groups fear it will infringe on privacy, increase lawsuits, and harm doctor-patient relationships.
Still others believe recordings would aid in malpractice lawsuits, since so much of what is argued over concerns what exactly occurred. The only basis for lawyers, patients and juries to make a decision of guilt or innocence is through medical records, expert opinions, and witnesses. If a hospital team truly acted within the standard of care, a recording of the event would only benefit their case.
The Public is Ready
Just as the widespread use of camera phones have placed a national spotlight on police misconduct, many patients are ready and eager to use technology to their advantage and place their care back in their own hands. Patients are requesting, with increasing regularity, to record doctor’s instructions, physical therapy sessions, and other routine medical visits.
Many hospitals have made their own policies regarding recordings, unwilling to wait for state legislatures to pass specific laws, as Indiana is now attempting. Wisconsin, Mississippi, and Massachusetts have introduced similar bills.
These bills are fueled in part by friends and family members of patients lost to malpractice. Indiana resident Betty Daniels lost her brother to a surgical error. Since his passing, Daniels became a member of the National Association for Medical Malpractice Victims, the National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association, and is now spearheading the effort to pass HB 1335.
Wisconsin Representative Christine Sinicki was inspired by Wade Ayer’s attempts to keep his sister’s story alive. Ayer’s sister stopped breathing during a cosmetic procedure, dying at a nursing home several months later. Investigations revealed she received fatal amounts of an anesthetic drug during the procedure, causing her surgeon to lose his medical license.
These families have been able to channel their tragedy into political activism and patient advocacy. The change they hope to invoke is one of truth and transparency, based in patients’ and familial rights.
The medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins have been representing individuals and families harmed by negligence for 30 years. We have a wide network of medical experts, trial attorneys, and investigators who will help you get through this difficult time. We offer free consultations to injured patients nationwide.