The field of photography is incredibly broad. Because it allows for visual representations that are not truly open to interpretation, it is present in a variety of other industries as well. This ranges from the construction industry to the field of healthcare. Added to this is the fact that the world has gone mobile, and smartphones can now take very high quality photographs. This has given rise to the field of mobile medical photography.

What Is Medical Photography?

It is essentially a specialized field within photography that looks specifically at documenting how a patient presents, but also of recording surgical and medical procedures, specimens from autopsies, and medical devices. A medical photographer is someone who has both photography skills and medical skills, as they must understand the subject they photograph in order to present it in a way that cannot be misinterpreted. Medical photographs are vital tools in teaching, scientific journals research, and clinical documentation.

Work for Medical Photographers

A medical photographer can expect to work with patients presenting in various stages of injury or illness, as well as before and after medical procedures such as autopsies and surgeries. Their goal is to create a visual record of the work done by healthcare practitioners, helping them to devise the appropriate form of treatment. At the same time, they work with educators to further knowledge in the field. A medical photographer understands and respects confidentiality and sensitivity. At the same time, they fully grasp the importance of being sterile, and they can implement privacy policies and legislation.

In 2008, the BioCommunications Association Inc. completed a study on the field of medical photography. This demonstrated that most found employment in teaching hospitals, as well as in research centers. There were also freelancers (10%), who mainly found employment in plastic surgery, ophthalmology, and dermatology clinics. These freelancers are also often involved in working within legal fields.

As part of their work, medical photographers can be found in operating rooms, wards, and clinics. They use specialized techniques, such as photomacroraphy, fluorescence, and ultra-violet in their work. Over the years, the role of these professionals has changed. In the past, they focused solely on medical needs, but they now also have editorial and commercial roles. They will set up video conferencing facilities for tele-medicine, for instance. In some cases, they may also specialize in a certain area of medicine, most notably dermatology or ophthalmology.

Issues Around Patient Consent

One of the key problems related to medical photography, and mobile medical photography in particular, is the fact that mobile phones are now used ubiquitously. A number of countries have made it a point of concern to determine exactly how mobile devices are used for the photography of patients and their conditions. In Canada, the practice has been fully regulated since 2000, which has led to the development of mobile medical photography apps. Canada is now an example to the rest of the world, who all consider doing something similar.

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