CMS Investigates Fairview Southdale Hospital for Videotaping Patients Without Knowledge or Consent

The HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) investigated Fairview Southdale Hospital, which is located in Edina, MN, because of a supposed patient privacy violation. It was found out that during the psychiatric evaluations of some patients in the emergency department, they were videotaped without their awareness or authorization.

The Star Tribune stated that the CMS conducted the investigation after receiving a complaint from a patient who was compelled to have a psychiatric evaluation without her approval in May 2017. Police officers escorted the patient to the hospital because of her state of mental health that might lead her to harm herself or others.

The patient took legal action regarding her hospital admission and police treatment after being released. She asked for a copy of the hospital’s security camera footage as part of the lawsuit. The copy of the videotape the patient received did not just contain her entrance into the facility. It has a record of her entire visit — her psychiatric evaluation and her changing into hospital scrubs (but only her back was visible). The patient was shocked that everything was recorded without her knowing about it and claimed that patients going into the emergency room are not advised about the cameras recording them.

Fairview Southdale Hospital has a treatment consent form where patients are advised that they may be videotaped for medical education purposes. However, the patient did not read or sign the consent form since she did not willingly come to the hospital and refused treatment.

Fairview Southdale Hospital cooperated completely with the investigators and advised the CMS that there were 8 more video cameras installed in rooms used for psychiatric evaluations because the number of incidents involving violent patients increased.

CMS confirmed that cameras were installed in the rooms, but there was a lack of signs that warn patients about being videotaped. The camera footage may be viewed in the nursing station but not by the public. Most footages taken using the cameras are permanently deleted. But in this case, the patient made a complaint about her visit to the hospital and so the footage was retained.

Executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota chapter, Sue Abderholden, told the Star Tribune that if healthcare facilities videorecord patients, it is necessary to notify the patients in the form of a warning sign or oral information for security reasons.

After the investigation, the hospital staff were retrained. Now, nurses need to tell patients that they may be videotaped when they go into the emergency room. Patients changing into hospital scubs are no longer filmed. Beginning September, the hospital will not b recording video footage, but cameras will still be used for medical education purposes.

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Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA