The primary objective of this survey was to establish current practice in emergency departments in the UK. Variation in obtaining consent, how image collection is achieved, and the images stored were considered to be important outcomes. An initial postal questionnaire followed by phone survey posed questions about practical and procedural issues when capturing clinical images in emergency departments in the UK. Altogether, 117 departments replied out of 150 surveyed. Only 21 departments have a written policy permitting medico-legal case photography. A total of 53 do take clinical photographs where no policy exists, seven of which actively take assault/domestic violence images, only four of which document consent. All departments with photographic facilities take images for clinical/teaching purposes. Thirty two of those without a policy attach the photograph to the clinical notes and so may be potentially called upon for medico-legal proceedings if relevant, which raises issues of adequate consent procedures, storage, and confidentiality. This is particularly pertinent with the increasing use of digital photography and image manipulation. A large variation in current practice has been identified in relation to a number of issues surrounding clinical image handling in emergency departments. Subsequently, recommendations for best practice have been proposed to protect both the patient and the clinician with regards to all forms of photography in the emergency department setting.
- A&E, accident and emergency
- NAI, non-accidental injury
- emergency medicine
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Competing interests: none declared