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Would body cameras on physicians aid patient safety?

Steven Strauss, a visiting professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, raised the issue in a Monday op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

Police Dept. In Utah Town To Outfit Entire Force With Body Cameras

There may be a new front in the debate over body cameras for public servants: medicine.

Steven Strauss, a visiting professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, raised the issue in a Monday op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

He suggested, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that not only police officers should get body cameras. Society — particularly minorities — could benefit if every move of doctors, teachers and, yes, politicians were recorded.

The political part is particularly juicy. “Personally, I’d welcome video or audio of what Hillary Clinton has to say to the people paying $353,000 to sit next to her and George Clooney at an upcoming fundraising dinner,” Strauss said.

But there’s a safety aspect in healthcare. According to Strauss:

In general, African Americans and other people of color receive inferior medical treatment, leading to higher death rates. David R. Williams, a professor of public health at Harvard, who has researched this issue writes that blacks and other minorities receive fewer diagnostic tests, fewer treatments, and overall poorer-quality care — even after adjusting for variations in insurance, facilities, and seriousness of illness.

Leaving aside patient outcomes, there are also highly credible accusations that medical staff have groped and sexually abused sedated patients. Body cameras on doctors and nurses might well prevent such incidents, or provide evidence if they did occur.

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A Deep-dive Into Specialty Pharma

A specialty drug is a class of prescription medications used to treat complex, chronic or rare medical conditions. Although this classification was originally intended to define the treatment of rare, also termed “orphan” diseases, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US, more recently, specialty drugs have emerged as the cornerstone of treatment for chronic and complex diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

There’s something to be said for that, even though more tests and treatments don’t necessarily correlate with better care.

A little more than a year ago, before I joined MedCity News, I posed a question on my own blog about whether cameras should be mandatory in operating rooms. The unscientific poll came out overwhelmingly in favor of it, and the comments supported the results.

Now, Strauss did note at the end of his op-ed that he was concerned about Big Brother. “Indeed, the world outlined above might be safer, more efficient and more honest. But it’s not a world I’d want to live in,” he concluded.

Early reactions to Strauss’ proposal were mixed. Here’s a sampling from the L.A. Times’ Facebook page:

LA Times Facebook - body cameras

Photo: George Frey/Getty Images