Birth-video ban not likely here

Moves to ban fathers-to-be from video-recording the birth of their babies in some Australian hospitals seem unlikely to be copied in New Zealand hospitals.

Expectant parents in some maternity hospitals in the Australian state of Victoria have been barred from taking hand-held recording devices into birthing suites because hospital staff are concerned about possible legal repercussions and staff privacy.

The move comes a month after it was reported that in 2009, almost $A20 million ($NZ25.97 million) was paid out to families whose babies were subject to bungled births in Victoria's public health system.

In New Zealand, most parents are allowed to film in birthing suites, although there are some concerns with videotaping Caesarean sections.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists chairman John Tait said parents had to ask for permission from anyone looking after them.

"There are people who feel uncomfortable, and then, obviously, they don't do the video.

"It should be discussed beforehand. I know some people are uncomfortable. We haven't, as far as I know, had any major problems with people getting upset because they couldn't videotape," he said.

Southern District Health Board general manager for women's, children's and public health Pip Stewart said while she was not aware of any incidents or complaints involving video recordings, staff were in the process of developing protocols on the issue.

At the Queen Mary Maternity Centre, women gave birth either in an operating theatre or in a birthing suite.

In both environments, filming of the birth was possible but required the consent of the mother and all the health professionals involved.

The issue revolved around "the whole element of consent".

She pointed out that the medico-legal situation in Australia was different from that which applied in New Zealand.

On the question of using the videos for legal action, the Medical Protection Society (MPS), an organisation aimed at helping doctors with legal problems arising from their clinical practice, said delivery recordings could be used for a complaint.

MPS medicolegal services head Brendon Gray said it was possible for videos to be used against MPS members, but he wasn't aware of any cases.

"It is possible that such a recording could be used against a doctor or midwife, but just because it could, in our view, really isn't any reason why those recordings should be banned," Mr Gray said.

 

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