Sharp Healthcare and Sharp Grossmont Hospital face another lawsuit over allegations that nearly 2,000 women were filmed without consent while undergoing surgical procedures at the San Diego hospital.
In mid-July 2012, Sharp, the case says, installed motion-sensor cameras in the three operating rooms at its Women’s Health Center as part of an investigation involving a doctor suspected of stealing drugs. The cameras, the suit goes on, began recording when they sensed movement in a room, and continued recording until a set time period after which motion was no longer detected. Sharp apparently kept the cameras running 24 hours a day until June 30, 2013, several months after its investigation was concluded, while secretly recording more than 1,800 women’s surgical procedures in the process.
Alleging invasion of privacy, the lawsuit claims proposed class members were recorded “in their most vulnerable state,” while they were under anesthesia and in various states of exposure on operating tables. The cameras allegedly produced more than 6,966 video clips that captured women’s “Caesarean births, birth complications, dilation and curettage to resolve miscarriages, hysterectomies, sterilizations, or other medical procedures.” The plaintiff and proposed class members never consented to be recorded, the suit stresses, nor did the defendants inform the women of the existence of the recordings until April 2019.
Sharp, the lawsuit alleges, further violated patients’ privacy by storing the recordings on computers accessible to multiple users, not all of which were password protected. From the complaint:
“Defendants did not protect the privacy of patients they filmed Defendants intentionally intruded upon Plaintiff’s and the Class members’ solitude, seclusion or private affairs and concerns by filming their gynecological and/or other surgeries, treatment and/or care without authorization or consent. This intrusion is highly offensive to reasonable individuals, such as Plaintiff and the Class members, and was totally unwarranted and unjustified, constituting invasion of privacy, and a violation of [HIPAA].”
The proposed class action looks to represent all women who underwent a surgical procedure at Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Women’s Health Center between July 17, 2012, and June 30, 2013.