What did Johns Hopkins know about its former employee, Dr. Nikita Levy, before he allegedly admitted to them that he had been secretly photographing and videotaping his patients without the patients’ permission or consent? The answer to this question may determine if John Hopkins may be held civilly liable to Dr. Levy’s former patients who suffered harms as a result of being victims of illegal photographing and/or videotaping.
What Johns Hopkins knew, when it knew it, what it did (or failed to do) to investigate the information or the allegations brought to its attention, and the actions it took (and when) in response to its knowledge will likely be keys to Johns Hopkins’ possible defenses to the lawsuits already filed and those that probably will be filed over the next many months.
What Information Do We Have Regarding Johns Hopkins’ Response To The Allegations Made Against Dr. Levy?
Johns Hopkins Medicine issued the following statement on February 23, 2013 regarding Dr. Levy (we have italicized the words in the statement that hint at the defenses that Johns Hopkins may raise in lawsuits filed against it regarding Dr. Levy’s insidious actions):
We understand there is still a lot of shock and confusion surrounding the dismissal, criminal investigation and subsequent death of obstetrician/gynecologist, Nikita Levy, M.D. It is a situation that is deeply disturbing for our patients and for the entire Hopkins community.
We want to assure our patients that their privacy, safety and wellbeing is always our priority. We acted quickly, and we reported this information with as much detail as our partners in law enforcement would allow.
We were alerted of a concern on February 4, 2013, and our security department immediately initiated an investigation. On February 5, in order to protect patient welfare, Dr. Levy was quietly escorted off the property, and all access to patients was suspended at that time. Dr. Levy’s employment was terminated on the afternoon of Friday, February 8.
This was and still is an on-going criminal investigation. At that time, evidence was still being collected, and through our conversations with the Baltimore City Police Department, we were asked not to disclose the specific allegations against Dr. Levy in our patient and employee communications.
We did not want to jeopardize the investigation that we had initiated. However, our patients are our first priority, and we wanted to assure Dr. Levy’s current patients continued to get the care they needed. With that in mind, as soon as we terminated his employment on Friday afternoon, February 8, we immediately alerted his current patients that he was no longer practicing with us, and we provided information to help them find a new physician. We sent that first letter on Monday, February 11.
On Monday, February 18, we learned of Dr. Levy’s death, and we were cleared by Baltimore City Police to release the details surrounding our investigation and Dr. Levy’s dismissal. At that time, we sent a second more detailed letter to his current patients. A sample of that letter is below.
Apart from a few individuals who have already been notified, we are not aware of the identities of any other people who may have been photographed by Dr. Levy. Baltimore City Police and their federal partners in the investigation will continue to sift through the evidence, and anyone who is identifiable in the photos will be contacted.
We want to thank our patients, their families and our employees for their patience and understanding as we all wait for new developments in this investigation.
February 18, 2013
Our records indicate that you were a patient of Dr. Nikita Levy and should have already received our previous letter. We are writing to you again to share some additional and deeply disturbing news that we are now permitted to release.
After being alerted by an employee, our security department at Johns Hopkins initiated an investigation of Dr. Levy. Within a day, we determined that Dr. Levy had been illegally and without our knowledge, photographing his patients and possibly others with his personal photographic and video equipment and storing those images electronically. At that time, in order to protect patient welfare, Dr. Levy was prohibited from any further patient contact.
Johns Hopkins promptly reported this activity to the Baltimore City Police Department. In light of this information, which Dr. Levy acknowledged, we ended his employment on February 8 and offered him counseling services. Tragically, on February 18, we learned that Dr. Levy apparently had taken his own life.
Words cannot describe how deeply sorry we are for all who this has affected. We are terribly sorry this has happened and for the distress you must be feeling.
Our commitment is to assure you ongoing care of the highest quality. We will work with you to provide continuity of your care with another member of our Obstetrics and Gynecological staff. Please call us at 855-546-3785 to discuss the procedures we have in place to attend to your ongoing medical care needs, reschedule any existing appointment, and address any questions you may have.
Dr. Levy’s behavior violated Johns Hopkins code of conduct and privacy policies and was against everything for which Johns Hopkins Medicine stands. We continue to work closely with law enforcement officials and will assist them in any way possible. In addition, in order to better understand what happened in this situation, the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins Hospital is engaging an independent investigator who will advise us and continue to work with the governmental authorities involved.
Once again, we are deeply sorry.
Sincerely, Yue-Cheng Yang, M.D. Chief, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Steven J. Kravet, M.D., M.B.A. President Johns Hopkins Community Physicians
From the mere number of self-serving, defensive assertions from Johns Hopkins that we have italicized above, it is clear that the John Hopkins’ communications to the public regarding the Nikita Levy matter so far have been drafted by Johns Hopkins to present Johns Hopkins in the best possible light to the general public. Only the several “we are sorry” statements (without words accepting any responsibility) and the acknowledgement of “the distress you must be feeling” indicate any understanding or compassion about what Dr. Levy’s alleged victims must be experiencing.
Hopefully we will learn in the not-too-distant future what John Hopkins knew (or should have known), when it knew it, and what it did in response to Dr. Levy’s alleged outlandish, abusive, and frightening actions, as well as the length of time Dr. Levy engaged in his salacious activities and the extent of his intrusions into the most-private and intimate matters of his patients. The situation may be much worse than Johns Hopkins and its patients currently know or believe.
If you or a loved one were a patient of Dr. Nikita Levy at any time, you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney to investigate whether you may be a victim of Dr. Levy’s actions.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free (800-295-3959) to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland who may be able to determine if you have a claim that can be made against Johns Hopkins and/or other(s) for the harms that resulted from Dr. Levy’s actions.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.