Health Information Management

HIPAA Q&A: Cameras in patient rooms

HIM-HIPAA Insider, January 30, 2012

Q. The nursing department in my facility wants to install cameras in a few of the patient rooms. It states that this would help with patient safety, especially for confused patients. I am concerned that this may be a possible violation of HIPAA and invade the privacy of patients and their visitors.

A. Using monitoring devices is acceptable if it is done for legitimate reasons related to patient care and if patients or their legal representatives give permission for the monitoring. A good practice would be to ask the patient or his or her legal representative to sign a consent form stating that the patient understands a visual monitoring device will be used in the room, and he or she consents to its use.

Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, vice president of health information management at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, TX, answered this question. She is a nationally recognized expert on patient privacy, information security, and regulatory compliance, and her publications provided some of the basis for HIPAA’s privacy regulations.

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