Banned at Birth: Maryland Hospital Bars Delivery Room Pictures and Video


"The first thing that comes to mind is it's a malpractice, legal issue," Geller said.

Geller said that immediately following a baby's birth, an APGAR (Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance and Respiration) test is done to determine a baby's health. Hospital officials might want to wait until the APGAR is completed and the baby is deemed healthy before allowing photos.

Geller said that each expectant mom has to adhere to a hospital's policy and it's up to the mom to do the research nessary about where her hospital stands on pictures and video.

Geller practices at the University of Illinois Medical Center, where she said the policy is not restrictive.

Jim Reiter from the Maryland Hospital Association said that there's not one dominating stance among the 47 member hospitals, including Meritus Medical Center, that belong to the association.

"There's not a broad scope that says you ought to do this; each hospital sets their guidelines up on their own," Reiter said. "Hospitals adhere closely to (health privacy laws) and error on the caution of privacy."

Reiter said that the advent of cell phone cameras makes regulating a patient's privacy even more difficult.

"I wouldn't say fear of lawsuits is the number one deciding factor," he said. "What matters is the privacy of the patient and their recovery."

But Brian McKeen, a medical malpractice attorney, said that hospitals are greatly influenced by the threat of a lawsuit when developing their policies regarding delivery room photography and videography. He said that restrictive policies like the one at Meritus Medical Center are increasingly common.

"There's no question in my mind or in the minds of other colleagues who I've worked with on the obstetrical side that hospitals are doing this so as not to have a piece of evidence generated that can be used against them in a court of law," McKeen said. "They do it to hide the truth," he said.

McKeen said that video and photos from a delivery can help in deciding a medical malpractice case.

"It may show that the physician complied with the standard care and engaged in all the appropriate maneuvers, or it may show the physician did not engage in the appropriate maneuvers and or used excessive force and caused the birth injury," he said.

McKeen said that if a patient isn't permitted to photograph or videotape a birth when they want to, they should find another doctor.

Shifler, the 36-year-old expectant mother, said it's too late to change doctors and hospitals. Her due date is Jan. 13. "I don't even know what the logistics would be with the insurance and just to find someone that would take me at 38 weeks. I've used him [my current doctor] for the last four kids," Shifler said.

Shifler is hoping the hospital will change its stance.

"A picture at five minutes old versus five seconds old is a whole different picture."

Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

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