Westmead Private Hospital, located in Sydney, has banned surgeons from using the popular app, Snapchat, during medical procedures. The ban was issued due to fears hospital officials have about negligence during surgeries as well as privacy issues.
Snapchat has grown in popularity over the years with the public as well as with cosmetic and plastic surgeons. Many medical professionals use the app as a marketing tool since it allows them to take current and future patients inside the operating room and show them what really goes on during a procedure. The type of procedures featured on Snapchat includes Brazilian butt lift, hair transplants and breast augmentation.
However, Laith Barnouti of Sydney, says the risk to both patients and surgeons is too high. Barnouti claims that an Australian hospital, as well as one of its surgeons, are being taken to court by a former patient and the case involves privacy concerns with the app. When speaking to news.com.au, he said “There are privacy issues, because even if the patient does consent to being filmed beforehand, which doesn’t always happen, they can’t approve every live video that’s being sent. Even if the patient consented for their photo to be taken, they might not consent for their pubic hair or their genitalia or their nipples or their face to be in it. They probably didn’t know their whole face would be shown.”
Barnouti went on to say patient safety is also an issue because surgeons are possibly distracted during the filming of the procedure. The surgeons might be doing the filming instead of their surgical assistants or support staff.
Professor Brad Frankum, of the Australian Medical Association, says using Snapchat during any procedure is a bad idea. According to Frankum, “The whole consent issue is quite vexed. People sometimes feel they’re consenting to one thing and it turns out to be something else.” He added that some patients might feel “a bit of an obligation to say yes, or if they don’t agree, that they won’t get the same level of care and attention that they would otherwise.”