Sharp HealthCare and Sharp Grossmont Hospital were charged with a lawsuit alleging that the hospital covertly took a video of female patients while undressing and while undergoing gynecological examinations.
As per the lawsuit, the hospital had video cameras installed on drug carts in three operating rooms at its facility on Grossmont Center Drive in El Cajon, San Diego. The installation was for the internal investigation the hospital is doing concerning the theft of propofol, an anesthesia drug. The cameras had active video recordings from July 17, 2012 to June 30, 2013 .
Upon checking the cameras, there were recordings of 1,800 patients taken while going through procedures like Caesarean births, dilation and curettage for miscarriages, hysterectomies, and other surgical operations. The cameras are motion-activated but they continued to record videos even when there’s no movement.
Sharp Grossmont Hospital spokesperson confirmed the installation of the three cameras and mentioned thata they are meant to keep the patient safe by identifying what caused the missing drugs from the carts.
The lawsuit claims that in some of recordings, the sensitive genital areas of the defendants’ patients were visible. Furthermore, the cameras were able to capture the patients’ faces, thus the patients are identifiable from the video recordings.
The lawsuit states that several people including medical and non-medical personnel and strangers could access the video recordings via desktop computers. No controls were put in place to know who had accessed the video recordings and why.
The plaintiffs claim that the computers that store the video recordings had already been replaced and that Sharp already deleted many of the videos; nevertheless, Sharp cannot affirm if the files were erased in a secure manner or if it’s possible to recover them.
The lawsuit was first filed in 2016 but its class certification was not approved. Upon refiling the case, about 81 women who were also recorded while receiving surgical operations in the OR were included in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are expecting hundreds more women to join.
The plaintiffs claim the violation of their privacy because of the unlawful recording of videos. The following charges were included: negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty, and that the inability to protect the video footage and permanently delete them is considered as gross negligence.
Because of what Sharp did, the plaintiffs suffered harm which includes, but not limited to, experiencing anguish, horror, fright, grief, anxiety, nervousness, worry, shock, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, mortification, hurt emotions, discouragement, depression and feelings of powerlessness. The plaintiffs want a trial by jury.