Multiple women have filed a lawsuit against Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, Calif., alleging they were filmed without their knowledge during childbirth and surgery. According to the lawsuit, hospital employees put up cameras in operating rooms in 2012 after they received reports of stolen medication. These cameras also recorded female patients at the hospital as they underwent childbirth, examinations, operations and other medical procedures.
The lawsuit alleges that the hospital didn’t just invade the women’s privacy, but they also stored the video footage on computers used by multiple people.
I. Glenn Cohen, a professor at Harvard Law School, believes that the hospital should have used a less intrusive way to investigate the missing medicine.
“It appears they kept at least some of the videos for some time,” he said, “and one would think the right thing to do, even on the hospital’s own rationale, would be rapidly review them and destroy them right after if they didn’t show any evidence of the drug theft.
“The fact that they failed to do even that is quite troubling.”
Allison H. Goddard, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said that the patients are in “universal shock” and that hospital was still in possession of thousands of videos. “They don’t know how their videos might be used or who may have seen them because Sharp didn’t make sure that that would be taken care of.”
Sharp Healthcare said in a statement that the company and hospital “continue to take extensive measures to protect the privacy of our patients.”
“The surveillance methods in the 2012-13 investigation were used for this particular case only and have not been used again,” it said. “We sincerely regret that our efforts to ensure medication security may have caused any distress to those we serve.”
John Cihomsky, a spokesman for Sharp, said that only a handful of authorized people in the company’s security, legal and clinical departments have looked at the videos in connection with litigation or investigations.
“The videos themselves are, and have always been, securely maintained,” he added.
Eighty-one are name as plaintiffs in the lawsuit and more are expected to join. They are seeking unspecified damages.