Nursing in the age of smart phones poses some unique challenges, few more daunting than when a patient or family member begins photographing or video recording you in the course of doing your job. As this is a relatively new and evolving issue, nurses may not be aware of their rights in this situation.

First, you must know that the public does not have an unrestrained right to photograph or record video of a nurse. In addition to breaching the privacy of the nurse, taking a recording, or threatening to take a recording may be considered a form of abuse.

NSNU Collective Agreements take a hard line on abuse: “No form of abuse of a Nurse will be condoned. Every reasonable effort will be made to rectify an abusive situation.”

The employer has a duty to protect your privacy in the workplace. Allowing photos or videos to be taken during the course of your work may breach the employer’s duty to protect your safety and well-being.

There are other concerns associated with photo and video recording in a healthcare environment:

  • Photos or video recording may interfere with the performance of duties. If such recording interferes with providing safe patient care, nurses have a duty to ensure it is addressed.
  • When allowing visitors or patients to take photos or videos there is a risk that other patients information may be captured and disclosed, breaching their privacy.
  • Taking photos and video recordings are reasonable at times, but this is dependent on circumstances – Who is taking the recording? For what purpose? Will the recording be shared? With whom? How?

If you have any concerns about photos/videos of you or your patients, please raise the issue with your manager and/or contact the Union for advice.

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CFNU Canadian Labour Congress