Mothers Sue Hospital For Secretly Filming During Childbirth And Surgery

Eighty-one women have filed a lawsuit against a California hospital where they gave birth after discovering that hidden cameras were present in the rooms during labor and delivery.

The hospital, Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, California, reportedly had motion-activated cameras installed in at least three operating rooms. The lawsuit alleges that female patients were filmed without their consent during medical procedures, including surgeries, labor, and deliveries. The laptop cameras had been installed on anesthesia carts in the operating rooms.

According to CBS News, one woman claims she was filmed while undergoing an emergency C-section during delivery. Other recordings include women experiencing birth complications, dilation and curettage to prevent miscarriages, as well as hysterectomies and sterilization procedures. The women were secretly recorded during a period of approximately 11 months, from July 17, 2012, to June 30, 2013.

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A lawyer for one of the women listed in the lawsuit stated that up to 1800 patients have possibly been filmed without their consent or knowledge. Attorney Allison Goddard, who is representing the women, says that her clients are still in shock. She described the invasion as a fundamental breach of privacy. So far, she has obtained five videos and has requested 100 more for review.

The filing says that the recordings show “female patients unconscious, undressed on operating room tables and undergoing medical procedures.” Some videos also captured footage of women partially dressed on operating tables. The lawsuit states that the videos were stored on computers in the hospital that were accessible to multiple users. In addition, the suit says that the hospital knowingly destroyed countless videos, though it is unclear if this footage can be recovered. "They were reckless, to say the least,” Goddard said.

The New York Times reported that hospital officials stated that the hidden cameras were installed in 2012 for protection in order to investigate a case of missing medication. “The three cameras were installed and operated to ensure patient safety by identifying the person or persons responsible for the removal of the drugs,” the hospital stated.

“Although the cameras were intended to record only individuals in front of the anesthesia carts removing drugs, others, including patients and medical personnel in the operating rooms, were at times visible to the cameras and recorded,” the hospital added.

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The women named as plaintiffs in the class-action suit are seeking unspecified damages. According to Art Caplan, a professor of bioethics and head of the division of medical ethics at New York University School of Medicine, drug diversion in hospitals is a “huge, huge problem,” but he added that investigations that involve patients, their identities and their private data must be handled with the utmost care and by the proper authorities.

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