On March 29, 2019, a lawsuit was filed against a California hospital that alleged that the hospital secretly video recorded 1,800 patients using hidden cameras at its women’s health center between July 17, 2012 and June 30, 2013 inside three Labor and Delivery operating rooms. The surreptitious video recordings allegedly showed women who were undressing, having surgical procedures such as Caesarean births, hysterectomies, sterilizations, dilatation and curettage to resolve miscarriages, and other procedures.
The lawsuit alleges that motion-activated cameras were installed on drug carts in each of the three operating rooms at the hospital’s women’s health center but the cameras continued to record even after the motion stopped. The hospital allegedly set up the hidden cameras as part of its investigation into whether an employee was stealing the anesthesia drug propofol from drug carts in the operating rooms.
The lawsuit alleges that the recordings showed the faces and genital areas of female patients who were easily identifiable in the recordings. The lawsuit further alleges that non-medical personnel and strangers had access to the recordings on desktop computers and that the hospital failed to log or track who accessed the recordings, why the recordings were accessed, or when they were accessed.
The lawsuit alleges that “Plaintiffs suffered harm including, but not limited to, suffering, anguish, fright, horror, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shock, humiliation, embarrassment, shame, mortification, hurt feelings, disappointment, depression and feelings of powerlessness” as a result of the secret video recordings and seeks damages for invasion of privacy, negligence, unlawful recording of confidential information, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and breach of fiduciary privacy.
The hospital issued the following statement regarding the video surveillance: “Between July 2012 and June 2013, Sharp Grossmont Hospital installed and operated one hidden camera on the anesthesia cart located in each of three operating rooms in the Women’s Center. The purpose of the three cameras was to ensure patient safety by determining the cause of drugs missing from the carts. A initial lawsuit alleging privacy violations and other claims stemming from the video recording was filed against Sharp HealthCare and Sharp Grossmont Hospital in 2016. The case remains active and Sharp is not in a position to comment further about the matter. Sharp HealthCare and Sharp Grossmont Hospital continue to take extensive measures to protect the privacy of its patients.”
There was no statement from the hospital as to whether the alleged drug thief was recorded or apprehended as a result of the video surveillance and recording.
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