Pregnancy scan camera ban grief


A ban on the use of cameras during pregnancy ultrasound scans is robbing families of documenting precious moments, a pregnant Dunedin woman says.

Emma van der Merwe (29) said she was seven weeks’ pregnant when she went to Marinoto Clinic in Maori Hill for her first pregnancy ultrasound scan about a month ago.

She knew the Pacific Radiology clinic at Marinoto banned the use of cellphones during scans because of a previous encounter.

On that occasion she took a pregnant friend to a scan at the clinic and asked the sonographer if she could film her friend and the screen of the ultrasound machine, so the video could be shared with her friend’s husband, who had to work on the day of the scan.

“We got to see the baby but he didn’t.”

The photograph of the scan of the baby the clinic staff gave patients was an inadequate way to trigger the memory of a mother wanting to recall the experience, she said.

Her memory was usually “on point” but during her pregnancy her memory was compromised and felt like “mashed potatoes” and she failed to remember her scan.

“I can’t remember the experience and having a visual aid would help me to remember that, plus it’s a documentary of this awesome experience.”

Ideally, a friend would be able to take a photo of her “welling up” looking at the image of the baby on the scanning machine, as she, with her husband at her side, enjoyed the “emotional moment”.

A photo or video would not need to feature the sonographer, she said.

Pacific Radiology spokeswoman Teresa Grace, of Wellington, said Pacific Radiology clinics had a “no cellphones” policy to stop people taking photos or videos during a pregnancy ultrasound scan.

The camera ban was spurred by three main concerns, she said.

The first concern was a photograph might inadvertently capture an anomaly with the foetus, or mother, which could cause distress.

Secondly, sonographers had reported patients taking selfies and disrupting the scanning process.

The final concern was photographs breaching the privacy of others, she said.

“We protect the privacy of our staff and other patients and guard against the unintended photographing of patient information.”

Southern DHB medicine, women’s and children’s health acting general manager Simon Donlevy said photographs were generally not allowed in Dunedin Hospital when a patient was getting a pregnancy ultrasound scan.

This was because electronic equipment had the potential to interfere with the diagnostic equipment being used, he said.

Also, as the scan was a medical procedure, the sonographer needed to be able to “fully concentrate to get the best possible scan for the patient”.