Would You Be Comfortable With Doctors and Nurses Taking Selfies While You Were in Surgery?

Would You Be Comfortable With Doctors and Nurses Taking Selfies While You Were in Surgery?

The selfie is now a widely accepted way of saying: "look, I'm doing something cool!" That being said, there are times when it's reasonable to take a selfie and times when it might be better to put the phone away. Would you feel comfortable with your doctors and nurses taking them while you were laying on the operating table?

Last month, a new surgical center opened in Niš, Serbia, with some of the first procedures occurring recently. This was documented in a most unusual way: doctors and nurses took selfies and posted them while in the middle of surgeries.

For me, there are three main issues. First, the patient is in an obviously compromised position and can't consent to being part of the image. Second, while I don't know if the phones were disinfected, cell phones are notorious for being mobile germ dens (seriously, prepare to be grossed out if you look it up), and given that operating rooms are supposed to be sterile, well, you can see the issue. Third, and perhaps most important, if my body is literally being cut open and operated on, I'd kind of prefer the people doing it to focus on that. It's the same reason we have the sterile cockpit rule in aviation. Of course, cultural norms of etiquette and procedures always lag behind technological advances, but this seems like common sense to me. 

So, while some jobs are conducive to selfies, I don't think brain surgery is one of them. What do you think? Let us know in the poll and comments below.

Lead image by Pixabay user sasint, used under Creative Commons.

[via DIY Photography]

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14 Comments

I’m a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine in the UK.

Doing this here would be grounds for instant dismissal, and probably any doctor or nurse would be erased from their professional register and prevented from working in healthcare again. It might also attract a criminal charge of voyeurism if exposed patient was caught in the shot.

Theatre should be focused on the patient and not on narcissism.

It is very unusual that I agree with a lay article on standards for doctors, but here I agree with the author. This is unacceptable behaviour.

john bigdawg's picture

Here in the USA we hire professional photographers to take intra-op photos for our official hospital news letters that get circulated to thousands. Some bored nurse with nothing better to do then take a selfie is nothing to get your panties in a bunch about.

JR Dailey's picture

Post surgery for personal use may be okay. No photos during surgery !! No photos of the patient !! PRIVACY !

Didn't Joan Rivers doctor or nurse take a selfie and look what happened to her.

michael buehrle's picture

as long they # me in it i'm cool with it. people are too uptight these days.

Photographers make their selfies in working rooms all the time. Let surgeons have some backstage shots too :)

john bigdawg's picture

This article is riddled with errors and is obvious it was written by a layperson...first of all the cell phones aren't "disinfected" because they are not within the sterile field. In the OR there are often several people with nothing to do for extended periods of time so taking a selfie in no way dangers a patient or changes an outcome of a surgery. Those people taking selfies are most likely the circulating nurse with nothing better to do. Guess what, during long cases surgeons take breaks to eat, we joke, have casual conversation, listen to music etc. The OR is actually a fairly laid back atmosphere long as the surgery is going well. Also, as long as the patient isn't identified it's HIPAA legal.

A serious environment should come with serious behavior. If a person is too childish and self-centered that they can't wait to take a photo of themselves then they shouldn't be allowed to work in such an environment.

john bigdawg's picture

I work with some of the top surgeons in the country (hell the world) and many surgeons commonly have casual conversations, tell jokes, etc all while operating. I'll let them know "Bob Brady" thinks they don't belong in the OR because it's a "serious environment". I'm going to bet you have never stepped foot in an OR and are speaking from ignorance.

I thought we were talking about taking selfies 🤳?

Be careful with that slope though; it's slippery.

I don't need to step foot in any operating room for my comment to be valid.

Surprised you have even heard of HIPPA, as you don't sound even remotely competent.

john bigdawg's picture

First of all it's HIPAA, not HIPPA. I have over 10+ years of experience in the OR and it's rarely like what you see on TV. Frankly most surgeons don't give a shit or will be to busy to notice if a nurse snaps a selfie. Don't let my PEPE the frog avatar fool you ;)

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Oh my gosh, this is a hard one. As long as it didn't distract from the procedure.. but who would know if it did.. I think it's too serious to be taking selfies. It's not like a photoshoot

After spending thousands of hours watching surgery (providing anesthesia) it gets a little old. As a general rule an operating room works as a team and everyone knows when to pay attention. Most OR staff know the surgery so well they can tell you what is happening without looking. I think it is quite clear that obesity and health choices (smoking, alcohol, drugs) are far more deadly than one of us snapping a photo of ourselves.