So what’s the real concern? Video surveillance check up.

So here’s the thing.  Recently I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to speak with many medical professionals, mostly nurses.  I’m fine, thanks for asking.

The conversations lead to video surveillance in the work place, especially medical practice settings such as hospitals, clinics, public health offices and so on and the concerns over privacy and confidentiality.

Mixed bag of reactions.

Nurse #1

What do you think the association (union) is going to say about that?  How do I know that my privacy is not being compromised?

Nurse #7

I have no worries putting cameras there, we can probably use them for health and safety.  What went wrong, why did that nurse get hurt?  How about when something goes wrong with a patient, might be used as a learning tool.

Nurse #9

I absolutely object, there is a great concern of privacy when it comes to the patients.  If they’ve come into our […] with something they don’t want anyone to know about why should they be subjected to being caught on video and their file information revealed.  Not fair to them.

Some valid points, but I also think there might be a misunderstanding in the marketplace about the usage of video surveillance.  So what does that tell us as security and risk professionals?  It tells me that we need to do a better job at education.

In the medical institution setting, I don’t think there should be a fear of those working or visiting this environment to know that there are video surveillance cameras deployed throughout the facility. That those images are being captured for a specific reason, reviewed in a specific way, cameras placed in a specific location for a specific reason, video history accessed in a protected manner, reviewed only by a selected few and the intent is most certainly not to violate any one’s privacy or confidentiality.

So what’s really wrong with that?  We as regular consumers visit many private and government institutions that have video surveillance.  Use the ATM = on camera. Go grocery shopping = on camera.  Go to your local mega mall = on camera.  Large metropolitan cities, walk down the street = on cameras.  Go to your favorite restaurant or pub = on camera.  I’m not suggesting that cameras are in every location a person goes, but there is a wide distribution of cameras and they have proven to be fantastic business tools in many industries, not only for security and risk.

Before we go any further, and before I get too many emails on this, I’m certainly not suggesting that cameras are installed in any areas where patients are being examined, where accidental capturing of information will lead to a breach of privacy and nor am I suggesting the placement of cameras in the work area that would be deemed private.  What I recommend is a careful analysis of the need.  Here is a sample of questions that need to be asked and you need to be satisfied with those answers.  In no way is this list exhaustive, only a taste of the questions you need to ask.

  • Why do we need video surveillance?
  • What risks do we believe or know that we have and how will video surveillance assist us in mitigating those risks?
  • What do we want or need to see?
  • Who will have access to this information?
  • How will we record and store this information?
  • How long will we keep the information stored?
  • Are there any risks with in breaching privacy and confidentiality?
  • Are all the stakeholders on board with the deployment of video surveillance?
  • Where are the most strategic points for placement of cameras?

So having said all of that, my real point is that education is paramount.  If our front line staff, management, clients are uncomfortable with something that we use, implement, deploy or otherwise have then is it the right solution for you?  Why don’t we just have the conversation and educate people on why we do or want to do things, ask the right questions.  You might be surprised of the various answers and suggestions you’ll get.




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