The HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has conducted a review at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, MN in relation to an alleged violation of patient privacy. The CMS stated that patients were videotaped during psychiatric evaluations in the emergency department without their prior knowledge or expressed consent. The hospital was reported for violating patient privacy.
The Star Tribune reported that he CMS launched an investigation following a complaint from a patient who had been taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation against her wishes in May 2017. The patient was taken to the hospital as police officers were concerned about her state of mental health and feared she may cause damage to herself or others.
After being published, the patient took legal action over her admission to the hospital and how she was handled by the police. As part of that legal action, the patient asked for a copy of the security camera footage from the hospital. While the patient hoped to receive a copy of the videotape from the front of the hospital showing her entering the facility, the videotape showed her complete visit, including her psychiatric evaluation and her changing into hospital scrubs. The videotape only displayed the patient’s back as she was getting changed.
The patient was shocked that the entire visit had been recorded without her knowledge and claimed that there were no warning alerts in the emergency room advising patients that they were being recorded.
Fairview Southdale Hospital does state on its consent form for treatment that patients may be videotaped for medical education, but in this case the patient refused to read to sign the consent form as she was not in the hospital of her own free will and had previously refused treatment.
Fairview Southdale Hospital assisted with the investigation and informed the CMS that an additional eight video cameras had been installed in rooms in the emergency department that were used for psychiatric evaluations following a rise in the number of incidents in which patients had become violent.
CMS found that cameras were in place in those rooms, although there were no alert signs warning patients that they were being videotaped. The camera footage was visible in the nursing station but was out of public sight.
Usually, footage from the cameras is permanently deleted, although in this case the footage was held as the patient had also made a complaint to the hospital about her visit.
Sue Abderholden, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, advised the Star Tribune, “Healthcare facilities that videorecord patients for security reasons should notify them… If you’re going to do it, there should be a sign and you should orally tell the person.”
After the investigation, the hospital re-trained employees and told its nurses to instruct patients that they may be recorded during their emergency room visits. Privacy screens have now been put in place to stop patients from being filmed while changing and from September, the hospital has ended recording video footage, but will go on usiung the cameras for medical education purposes and for safety reasons.