August 11, 2022

Our state Department of Health informed us that we are required to have cameras installed in our chemotherapy unit so that patients receiving treatment can be observed via a monitor at the nurses’ station. Since we will be recording patient care activity, do we need to post signs stating that cameras are in use?

CMS’s Interpretive Guidelines to the Medicare COPs regarding physical privacy indicate that “audio/video monitoring (does not include recording) of patients in medical surgical or intensive-care type units would not be considered violating the patient’s privacy, as long as there exists a clinical need, the patient/patient’s representative is aware of the monitoring,” and the monitors or speakers are not visible or audible to visitors or the public.  However, “video recording of patients undergoing medical treatment requires the consent of the patient or his/her representative.”

If the hospital is only monitoring the patients via video and not creating a recording, the patients and their representatives only need to be “aware of the monitoring.” In that case, signs would satisfy the requirement and be an appropriate way to inform them that monitoring is occurring.  On the other hand, if a true “recording” will be made, then a more formal consent would be required by CMS.

It is also important to check state law in these circumstances, as most states have their own laws that govern audio and video recordings that could be applicable.