You are dispatched to a single family house for a patient with abdominal pain. Just like any other call, you pull up in front of the house, gather your gear and head up to the front door. After ringing the doorbell, you are greeted by a gentleman n his mid-20′s who is holding a camcorder, filming you as the door opens. “He’s over here. I just want you to know, you’re being video and audio recorded.” How would you react to this? Would you demand that the man put the camera down? Would you cite a violation of the patient’s HIPAA rights? Maybe you would state that your own personal rights are being violated. Ultimately though, I would like you to ask yourself one question: What’s the big deal?
If you are doing the right thing, maintaining a professional demeanor, and delivering the best patient care you are able to, what is the big deal if someone is videotaping what is going on? Realistically, nothing about what you would do for that patient should change. The only difference is you have a captive audience.
A search through YouTube will reveal what some people would describe as videos of patient neglect or people not being treated with the respect they deserve. Take the recent video of the Houston FIre and police personnel taking pictures of the passed out woman while they stand around waiting for the ambulance to show up. The fact is, more times than not, you won’t find the YouTube titles of “Police officer is perfectly respectful during traffic stop.” Or “Watch this homeless person as they are taken care of by caring and compassionate EMTs” why? Because there is no shock value to that. No one wants to watch that boring video. They want to be outraged and shocked with what they find on the internet.
I fully admit that I frequently surf YouTube and religiously check out the CopBlock YouTube page. Now, while I do not agree with the stance and opinions of many of its members, I like to see how the officers who are taped handle themselves when faced with an aggressive camera person and I have seen good and bad. I have seen officers maintain their professional demeanor and others who have lost their cool, but all in all there are lessons to be learned. Granted, our work is a little different on most occasions but there still are a number of similarities.
From all of the videos that I have seen, following these five rules will help you should you encounter someone who wants to videotape you while you are working at a scene:
1. Stay calm – No matter how passive or aggressive the videographer is, remember: you are a professional. Don’t be confrontational or try and reference laws or rights that you might not be 100% educated about.
2. Stay focused on your patient – Do not get preoccupied by the person holding the video camera. Be aware of where they are and what they are doing, mainly for your safety, but stay focused on your patient. That is who you are there for. If the videographer is interfering with patient care, ask them to take a step back because you need a little more room to work. Make sure the requests that you make are worded to they understand that what you are asking them to do is in the best interest of the patient.
3. Strive for clinical excellence – Remember all of your training, and how good you are at your job. Leave no question for yourself, your patient or the person with the video camera that you did everything correctly on that scene.
4. Move along – Work with a purpose. The sooner that you are off that scene, the sooner you can remove that stressor of the camera.
5. Remember: you may not know its happening - Just because there is not someone right up in your face with a camera does not mean someone isn’t watching. Virtually anyone will a cell phone created after 2009 has the means to video tape you at any time whether you know it is happening or not.
With the number of video cameras and video capable cell phones on the market today, it is becoming more and more likely that your response to a scene and the care that you provide could be captured on video. Being prepared, being professional, and being ready to provide the best care possible will allow you to always stay in the “right.” Your employer will be able to easily back you up, and you will leave the videographer no shock or awe worthy of posting on the internet for everyone to see.