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CJEM. 2019 May;21(3):384-390. doi: 10.1017/cem.2018.423. Epub 2018 Aug 20.

Self-documentary in the emergency department: Perspectives on patients recording their own procedures.

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*Department of Emergency Medicine,University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon,SK.
†College of Medicine,University of Saskatchewan,Saskatoon,SK.
‡Academic Family Medicine,Research Division,University of Saskatchewan,Saskatoon,SK.



Patients often bring their smartphones to the emergency department (ED) and want to record their procedures. There was no clear ED recording policy in the Saskatoon Health Region nor is there in the new Saskatchewan Health Authority. With limited literature on the subject, clinicians currently make the decision to allow/deny the request to record independently. The purpose of this study was to examine and compare patient and clinician perspectives concerning patients recording, in general, and recording their own procedures in the ED.


Surveys were developed for patients and clinicians with respect to history and opinions about recording/being recorded. ED physicians and nurses, and patients>17 years old who entered the ED with a laceration requiring stitches were recruited to participate; 110 patients and 156 staff responded.


There was a significant difference between the proportion of patients (61.7% [66/107]) and clinicians (28.1% [41/146]) who believed that patients should be allowed to video record their procedure. There was also a significant difference between clinicians and patients with regard to audio recording, but not "selfies" (pictures). However, with no current policy, 47.8% (66/138) of clinicians said that they would allow videos if asked, with caveats about staff and patient privacy, prior consent, and procedure/patient care.


Contrary to patients' views, clinicians were not in favour of allowing audio or video recordings in the ED. Concerns around consent, staff and patient privacy, and legal issues warrant the development of a detailed policy if the decision is made in favour of recording.


Audiovisual recordings; emergency department; privacy; smart phones; social media


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