Cameras/Photography in the OR?

Specialties Operating Room


Hi all,

I am a pre-nursing student. I also had major abdominal surgery this past fall, and asked the Doc if it was ok to take pics of the "parts he removed" because I wanted to see for myself if they were as bad as he said they were. He said it was fine, as long as the circulating nurse would agree to do it, and she said ok she didn't mind. I had brought along a disposable camera for this purpose, so that my nice 35mm camera wouldn't accidentally get lost, dropped, etc. My camera came with me out of the OR, then with me to my room in the Med/Surg section.

A couple days after the surgery, my doc gave me an envelope containing a few polaroids that they took in the OR, in case my pics didn't turn out. That was a good thing, because their picture quality was much better than mine.

I thought that was interesting that they already had a polaroid camera in the OR, and was wondering how much they actually use a camera there, and what they usually take pics of.

So, do you know what is typically or not so typically photographed and why?

Thanks a million!


1 Post

Back in the '80s, a new technique called osseointegration was tried out at our hospital. As the inservice coordinator, I had to ensure my OR staff knew each and every step of the procedure. During the inaugural surgery, I photographed each step of the operation both with the surgeon's camera and my own. I had mine developed as prints and slides so they could be used as teaching tools.

Years later I photographed back-tables, endoscopic procedures, unusual cases and whatever could teach anyone else. As I became more familiar with depth of field, macro lenses and lighting I would photograph everything including x-rays and use reverse B&W development for some .

In every instance, patient identification was impossible as I never recorded patient info except for the diagnosis and treatment. Nothing was photographed which could be connected directly to a particular patient. The sequence itself was paramount to the photographic element. As a circulator, the patient was my priority, but if a photo opportunity arose that I could use presented itself without jepordizing the patient, I would take it.

As a caveat, any permit which did not state photos were allowed were eliminated from any photographs, even if unidentifiable.



108 Posts

Specializes in All Surgical Specialties.

We only photograph when it is specifically requested by the surgeon. Most of our pictures end up as part of a Morbidity/Mortality conference presentation or a doctor's private study for publications. We most commonly take pictures of specimen, both while still in the patient and after it is removed. We place it on a tray with a ruler for scale and shoot. Pictures are also taken with an endocam. We shoot digital photos through an endoscope and make prints to attach to the patient's chart. We use to make videos but have discontinued this practice due to the inability to maintain a video library for medical records. Photos are never taken when the section of the permit for medical education has been denied by the patient.

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