Audio and panoramic video recording in the operating room: legal and ethical perspectives

J Med Ethics. 2020 Apr 2;medethics-2019-106056. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2019-106056. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: The idea of video recording (VR) in the operating room (OR) with panoramic cameras and microphones is a new concept that is changing the approach to medical activities in the OR. However, VR in the OR has brought up many concerns regarding patient privacy and has highlighted legal and ethical issues that were never previously exposed.

Aim: To review the literature concerning these aspects and provide a better ethical and legal understanding of the new challenges concerning VR in the OR.

Conclusions: There is a disparity between the two main legal models concerning VR in the OR, namely the European legal system (General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)) and the American legal framework (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)). This difference mainly deals with two distinct bioethical paradigms: GDPR places a strong emphasis on protecting patients' privacy to improve the public health system, whereas HIPAA indicates the need to generate protocols to safeguard the risks connected to medical activity and patient privacy. Following from this point, we may argue that, at the ethical and bioethical level, GDPR and HIPAA depend mainly on two different ethical models: a perspective based on moral acquaintances and weak proceduralism, respectively. It is worth noting the importance of developing additional guidelines concerning different world regions to avoid the ethical problems that may emerge when simply applying a foreign paradigm to a very different culture.

Keywords: clinical ethics; informed consent; legal aspects; research ethics; surgery.