There has been an increased concern regarding the use of cell phones by nurses in healthcare facilities more so in nursing homes. Nursing homes are establishments that host adults especially the elderly and disabled individuals (Forsberg, & Pfeiffer, 2006). Initially, the radio wave or electromagnetic forces in cell phones was the cause of their ban in hospitals since it was deemed to meddle with certain patient equipment. However, recent research has revealed that a renewed concern regarding use of cell phones in hospitals is not associated with interfering with patients’ equipment, but rather protecting patients’ privacy.
Individually identifiable health information (IIHI) is health information that ought to be protected (Stahl, 2004). Healthcare facilities and specifically nursing homes have come to the realisation that photos that reveal the identities of patients form part of Protected Health Information (PHI), and thus have laid down policies that forbid staff from photographing a patient devoid of their consent.
An example of such an incident was experienced at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA, that involved a respiratory therapist who got a punishment of forty years incarceration due to molestation allegations on disabled children (Post, Blustein, & Dubler, 2007). The therapist was further charged with allegations of internet pornography that he undertook using his cell phone and uploaded the photos to the internet.
I order to conclusively address these issues and evade eminent liability arising from such occurrences, nursing homes ought to consider developing and implementing policies regarding the application of cell phone cameras in various establishments: Firstly, facilities should formulate and communicate a well documented policy elaborating the cons of cell phone camera use and decipher the punishments that may accrue other patients, practitioners, residents, staff, as well as visitors for non-abiding to the policy.
Secondly, staff and employees ought to be informed that images of patients can only be recorded for express purpose of training or care and the activity should be undertaken using selected equipment special and by people authorized by the facility.
Thirdly, the policy ought to clearly decipher that the establishment should claim property rights for any authorized photographs. Furthermore, the policy should constrain the sharing of photographs or other images to individuals without the confines of the establishment devoid of a written agreement that is permissible.
Fourthly, volunteers and other medical staff should be subjected to annual training courses on the policy incorporated in other compliance training classes. Roll call should be compulsory for all participants at such training courses, and continued employment should be pegged on the attendance.
In addition, regardless of the policy the healthcare facility resonates with, signs should be posted conspicuously stating the form and magnitude of the ban on the usage of cell phone cameras within the establishment in order to clearly create awareness on employees, volunteers, and visitors on what is permitted.
Facilities should ensure their staffs is trained to keep vigil on any employee, resident, or visitor within the facility who may be seen taking photographs using a cell phone to discard the photographs from the phone with immediate effect. Since adherence to the policy is indispensable, the policies of the facilities should entail specific repercussions for default to adhere to the policy. The repercussions should be impartially applied to all violators.
Lastly, during the admission of a resident or patient into the facility, each resident or patient (or for that matter whoever is responsible for them) ought to sign a form declaring that they have been aware that the use of cell phone cameras is constrained or completely banned inside the establishment.
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