Hospitals becoming increasingly camera shy during child birth - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Hospitals becoming increasingly camera shy during child birth

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(WMC-TV) – It's been permitted for decades, but there is increasing debate in hospitals around the nation about whether or not parents should be allowed to video their child's birth.

Sarah Fliehmann filled photo albums with the births of her first three children, but during the birth of now 4-year-old Carington, her doctor at Baptist DeSoto ordered all cameras out of the delivery room.  

"The nurse said, 'We don't allow pictures,'" she said. "It would have been nice to have those."

According to Dr. Lynda Gioia-Flynt of the U.T. Medical Group, in the age of social media and cell phones, what happened to Fliehmann could become a growing trend.

"Now it becomes an issue on a daily basis, you know, people whipping out their phones besides even the regular video camera," she said.

Sites like Facebook and Twitter are forcing hospitals to rethink their policies on picture taking and video taping.  

"I think social media has brought a whole new dimension into the healthcare environment," Baptist Memorial Hospital's Beverly Jordan said.

At Baptist's 14 facilities in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas each hospital sets its own policy on cameras in the delivery room.  

"We do not have a system wide policy on video taping and cameras in the labor room," Jordan said.

There's no national policy either.  At The MED, cameras are allowed, but can be banned at a moment's notice if there are complications during childbirth.

Childbirth videos show up regularly in medical malpractice suits, and studies show obstetricians are sued more often than any other specialty doctors.

Everybody knows that pictures speak for themselves," attorney Matt May said. "Videos speak for themselves a lot of times."

Sarah Fliehmann says doctors cut off the cameras during Carington's birth because she was high-risk.  Their first picture together was taken two hours after she was born.

Professional birth photographer Brandy Kemp hopes the advent of technology doesn't force further restrictions.  

"It would be devastating to some families if they couldn't record that actual event," she said.
But hospital administrators say as doctors focus on the safety of mom and baby, they make the final call on cameras, and parents should be clear about the rules long before dad starts tweeting pics from the delivery room.

It's hard to tell whether restrictions on cameras are on the rise because no national organizations keep track of the statistic. We want to hear from you...should hospitals ban taking photos and videos during childbirth? Weigh in on the Action News Five Facebook page.

Click here to read a recent New York Times article on this topic.

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