Should your practice install video surveillance?


Managers: Consider state laws, as well as employee response, to make sure the practice and its team are equally protected by video surveillance.

The first step in your decision to install video surveillance is determining how it could help your practice and team.

Consider this scenario: Two employees, Angela and Rebecca, have a history of workplace disagreements with one another. Rebecca tells you she saw Angela take controlled drugs from the locked cabinet when she was leaving last night. Rebecca checked this morning and no one had recorded a log for the removal of those drugs. You're in a tough spot because you're wondering if this is all part of Rebecca and Angela's ongoing battle or if there's been a theft.

Your practice uses video surveillance, and, in this situation, it's permissible to look at the tape. But you should not review the tape with Rebecca, asking her to point out the action. Instead, you should examine the footage while upholding utmost confidentiality and documenting what you see.

You watch the videotape and view Angela place drugs in her handbag and exit the building. Without this evidence, you would've been forced to weigh Rebecca's word against Angela's while keeping in mind the pair's history. The tape saved you considerable time and energy allowed you to solve the problem quickly and easily.

Once you've played out a few similar scenarios and grasped the benefits of outfitting your practice with cameras, you're ready for the next step. Seek advice from your practice's legal counsel to establish policies and procedures relating to electronic surveillance. Then talk to your employees. Educate them about the positive aspects of surveillance so they appreciate rather than feel threatened by the policies. Also ensure they understand that you'll respect their privacy rights.

Here are all the items, in a nutshell, to consider in order to implement a successful surveillance system:

1. Determine if this is a legitimate need for the practice.

 2. Determine state and federal laws that apply. Start your search at

3. Check carefully into state and city regulations. Recording audio changes what you're allowed to do. Wiretapping laws may apply.

4. Obtain written employee permission if appropriate.

5. Set up video surveillance in areas that do not intrude on privacy. Areas such as bathrooms, locker rooms, or private offices are off limits.

6. Use visible cameras when possible.

7. Train any team member that might be reviewing recorded information or live feed about what are acceptable responses and observation methods.

8. Maintain confidentiality around all aspects of monitoring information.

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Adam Christman
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