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Fairview Southdale Hospital rebuked for secretly videotaping patients

A patient made the discovery after requesting video footage of her hospital visit.

Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina has been cited by federal health officials after it emerged it had been videotaping patients in some of its emergency rooms without their knowledge.

The rebuke and demand for improvements was made by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this week, after a patient complaint about being recorded while at the hospital without her consent.

The woman had requested tape of her visit to the hospital as part of a lawsuit she filed concerning her admission to Fairview and treatment at the hands of police.

When the footage arrived, she was just expecting it to show her arriving at the entrance of the hospital. However, she saw she had also been recorded while in one of the psychiatric evaluation rooms of the hospital's Emergency Department.

"I was shocked that they videotaped me the whole time I was there," she told officials, according to a CMS report sent to Bring Me The News . 

The patient stated the video tape "was horrifying to her," and noted that there were no markings or signs in the room where she was being recorded telling her that it was happening. At one point in the video, the patient was observed changing out of her clothes and into hospital scrubs.

The hospital does have a consent form for treatment that mentions the possibility of treatment being taped for educational purposes, but in this instance the patient didn't sign the form, as she was refusing to submit to treatment.

Fairview confirmed to investigators that it had added cameras to eight of its psychiatric evaluation rooms as a way of evaluating and treating patients who may be a danger to themselves, a move it had taken because the hospital had "experienced an increase in violent patients in the previous year."

It then admitted to regularly making use of these cameras in three of those rooms, which the CMS found was in breach of patient rights protection guidelines.

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In response to the investigation, Fairview told the CMS it was going to stop video recordings, but would continue monitoring patients using video for medical education or safety reasons.

It has implemented new policies to make patients are that they are being monitored, including signs in the rooms, as well as training staff to inform patients they are being monitored.

In a statement to the Star Tribune, Fairview said it's committed to providing "safe, high-quality patient care and protecting the rights of all patients."

"In situations such as this, we work closely with regulatory agencies to promptly and thoroughly investigate concerns raised and take appropriate action to ensure we are fully compliant and indeed exceed expectations of those we serve moving forward."

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