What are an RN’s rights at work not to be a part of being photographed by patients or a patient’s friends or family members?

By | 2022-05-06T15:45:05-04:00 February 12th, 2014|5 Comments


Dear Nancy,

Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I will not allow patients or their families/visitors to film me while giving care. Some seem to think every minute of the day qualifies as a YouTube video. I have firmly said more than once, “I’ll come back to do what you need to have done once the camera/phone is put away.”

I have had people complain and grumble because I wouldn’t allow them to place the phone six inches from where I was about to give an injection in the friend’s backside. They were mad and said, “only your hand is in the picture,” but I still declined. Last week a 19-year-old we had all night after an alcohol bender took a selfie as I was wheeling him out of the ED room, like it was a graduation photo or some other memorable event. What are my rights at work not to be a part of this? I realize people take pictures in the delivery room, but to me this is a different issue.


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Sherry,

First of all, you should be commended for taking a position against being filmed or photographed without your consent when you provide care. The American Nurses Association has published two documents that you may want to review to help support your position. The first is the “Nurses’ Bill of Rights,” available at (www.nursingworld.org/NursesBillofRights). The document speaks to such issues as the nurse being able to practice in a work environment that supports and facilitates ethical practice in accordance with the “Code of Ethics for Nurses.” The code itself, in Provision 5, clearly explains a nurse owes the same duties to himself or herself as to others, including the responsibility to preserve one’s integrity. You can read Provision 5 and the entire code at (www.nursingworld.org). Point the cursor to the Ethics tab and then click on the code from the drop-down menu.

You also should review your workplace’s policy on social media and on photographing and video taking, especially as it pertains to you as an employee. As you know, most employers have a social media policy that focuses on employees taking photographs of patients, commenting about patients on social media sites, etc. Some employers also have a more general photographing and video policy that prohibits employees from being photographed or videotaped in any manner while at work. If such a policy exists where you work, you can easily rely on it when refusing to be photographed when providing any patient care. If your workplace does not have such a policy, you may want to suggest one be developed by the facility’s Policy and Procedure Committee.

You also need to discuss your concerns with your nurse manager and inform her/him that this is an important issue to you and your nurse colleagues.



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  1. Avatar
    Catherine June 20, 2019 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    I disagree. What have you got to hide? A lot of atrocities would never come to light without video. What do you have to hide . Being transparent is a good thing for you . It’s about accountability for you. Patients are abused . Murdered, raped because someone doesn’t want video. But you’re all over social media doing God knows what. If the family feel the need to video their family member while you are in the room think of it as protection for you if they say you did something you didn’t do.

  2. Avatar
    Cibella July 3, 2019 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    No disrespect to Catherine but people will make a meme out of anything no matter how innocent you shouldn’t be able to be forced into being filmed when you can’t leave if you are at work.

  3. Avatar
    Against Patient Abuse October 17, 2019 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Why are you afraid of being recorded? Are you abusing patients?
    If you are in a state with a one-party consent law, they do not even have to ask your permission unless your hospital has a specific policy against it, suck it up buttercup.

  4. Avatar
    Heather Craven October 21, 2019 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I practice in a one consent state and we have had some issues related to this come up recently. Do not be so quick to jump to conclusions why she does not want to be filmed. We have had patients and family film the nurse not realizing there are other patients in the picture. Is it fair to them? Also consider the impact the distraction of being filmed may have on the care being delivered.

  5. Avatar
    Jane August 10, 2020 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    It is data protection and a total disrespect not just for the nurse being filmed but also other patients in the ward. It’s not about having something to hide its about having the right to say no to photos or videos being taken without consent. Before I do any nursing procedure I gain consent, my rights as a human being do not stop because I am a nurse.

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