Background: The American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics states that any clinical image taken for public education forms part of the patient's records. Hence, a patient's informed consent is required to collect, share, and distribute their image. Patients must be informed of the intended use of the clinical image and the intended audience as part of the informed consent.
Objective: This paper aimed to determine whether a random selection of instructional videos containing footage of central venous catheter insertion on real patients on YouTube (Google LLC) would mention the presence of informed consent to post the video on social media.
Methods: We performed a prospective evaluation by 2 separate researchers of the first 125 videos on YouTube with the search term "central line insertion." After duplicates were deleted and exclusion criteria applied, 41 videos of patients undergoing central line insertion were searched for reference to patient consent. In the case of videos of indeterminate consent status, the posters were contacted privately through YouTube to clarify the status of consent to both film and disseminate the video on social media. A period of 2 months was provided to respond to initial contact. Furthermore, YouTube was contacted to clarify company policy. The primary outcome was to determine if videos on YouTube were amended to include details of consent at 2 months postcontact. The secondary outcome was a response to the initial email at 2 months.
Results: The researchers compiled 143 videos. Of 41 videos that contained footage of patient procedures, 41 were of indeterminate consent status and 23 contained identifiable patient footage. From the 41 posters that were contacted, 3 responded to initial contact and none amended the video to document consent status. Response from YouTube is pending.
Conclusions: There are instructional videos for clinicians on social media that contain footage of patients undergoing medical procedures and do not have any verification of informed consent. While this study investigated a small sample of available videos, the problem appears ubiquitous and should be studied more extensively.
Keywords: YouTube; ethics; medical education; patient consent; patient footage; patient video; social media.
©Jane O'Sullivan, Cathleen McCarrick, Paul Tierney, Donal B O'Connor, Jack Collins, Robert Franklin. Originally published in JMIR Medical Education (http://mededu.jmir.org), 13.10.2020.