Police officers in many departments around the country who are regularly assigned to perform patrol duties are equipped with body-worn cameras.
For example, the New York Police Department (NYPD) body-worn camera program is the largest in the U.S. with over 24,000 members of the Department equipped with body-worn cameras.
Body-worn cameras are small battery-powered digital video cameras that police officers currently attach to their uniforms. An officer is required to manually activate the recording—these camera capabilities are like those of human eyes and ears (there’s no night vision or other enhancements). When an officer ends their day, the recorded videos are uploaded to a storage in the cloud.
As we have seen on the news, these body cameras record the actions and behaviors of law enforcement officers in real time, and these recordings can be reviewed in police violence investigations. Body camera footage has been associated with reduced police brutality. Cameras in schools have proven effective in thwarting bullying. This is because monitoring the actions of individuals can create self-checking behavior. The use of body-worn cameras has demonstrated that cameras may help de-escalate potentially volatile encounters. Body cams also can provide critical evidence in criminal and civil proceedings.
Taking this a step further, one Yale professor has suggested that body cams worn by health professionals would decrease poor health outcomes for Black patients and hold health care professionals accountable in real time.
A child psychiatry fellow at the Yale School of Medicine has proposed that medical professionals wear these police-like body cameras so they can be accountable if they make racist comments toward patients, according to a recent report in the New Haven Register.
Dr. Amanda Calhoun said that when she worked in hospitals, she often heard colleagues sharing racist sentiments. One time, she heard a white staff member laugh at a Black teenager who’d died from gunshot wounds, remarking that he was “just another criminal.”
In a July opinion column published in the Boston Globe, she asserted that body cams would help hold hospital staffers accountable for racist behavior, which she said can have significant effects on patients’ health and treatment outcomes. This major concern can result in physicians being stripped of their medical licenses; however, proving a healthcare professional engaged in racist behavior after the fact is challenging, particularly if there is no evidence like a video recording.
For example, research shows that Black mothers are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications, a gap that Dr. Calhoun contends could be narrowed if staff knew there was a record of their interactions with patients.
Healthcare professionals can be sued for medical negligence, but these types of claims require time, money, and substantial evidence. Even with compelling evidence, physicians still win half of the time. Moreover, even if medical negligence is proven in court, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the doctor responsible will lose their medical license.
If health care professionals wore body cameras, many believe that patients would feel far more comfortable, less mistakes would be made by doctors, and patients would be treated more fairly.
Currently there are no body cams in clinics and hospitals to monitor the actions of healthcare professionals, but mistakes by healthcare professionals can result in further injury, illness, and death.
For a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm.
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