Sharp HealthCare and Sharp Grossmont Hospital have been accused of covertly recording videos in an area of the hospital where female patients were undressing and having gynecological procedures performed, without first obtaining consent from patients.
According to the lawsuit, the hospital had installed video cameras on drug carts in three operating rooms of the hospital’s facility on Grossmont Center Drive, El Cajon, San Diego. The cameras were installed as part of an internal investigation at the hospital over the theft of an anesthesia drug called Propofol from drug carts. The cameras were actively taking video recordings between July 17, 2012 and June 30, 2013.
The cameras recorded 1,800 patients while they were having procedures performed, including dilation and curettage for miscarriages, hysterectomies, Cesarean births and other surgical procedures. The cameras were motion-activated, but they kept on recording video footage even when no movement was detected.
A Sharp Grossmont Hospital spokesperson affirmed that there were three cameras installed and that they were meant to help maintain patient safety by finding out what was happening to the anesthesia drugs.
The lawsuit states that some recordings showed patients’ genitals and some showed patients’ faces and in some cases, it was possible to identify patients from the video recordings. The lawsuit also claims that a number of people, both medical and non-medical employees , could have accessed the video recordings on desktop computers. There were insufficient controls in place to limit access and monitor what video recordings were accessed and why.
Many of the computers on which videos were stored have now been replaced and Sharp had allegedly deleted most of the videos; however, Sharp cannot confirm whether files were securely deleted and if it is possible that videos could be recovered.
The lawsuit was filed in 2016, but class certification was initially denied. The lawsuit has recently been refiled and 81 women are named as plaintiffs and more individuals are expected to be added to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs claim their privacy has been violated and that the recordings were unlawful. The hospital has also been accused of a breach of fiduciary duty, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and gross negligence for its failure to secure the video recordings and ensure they were permanently deleted.
As a result of the video recordings, the plaintiffs claim to have experienced anxiety, anguish, horror, humiliation, and embarrassment. The plaintiffs are seeking jury trial and damages.