UPMC fires several employees after they ogled, photographed anesthetized patient with genital injury

Several physicians and employees at Everett, Pa.-based UPMC Bedford Memorial were disciplined after a state investigation revealed a "ton" of employees crowded into an operating room to take photos and videos of a patient without consent, according to Penn Live.

The patient arrived at the facility's emergency room Dec. 23 for a genital injury that required surgery to remove a "foreign body," according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health's report of the incident.

A UPMC Bedford employee told investigators a physician requested a photo of the patient be taken with an operating room camera "to use for future medical lectures," the health department's report states. The employee told investigators the OR camera was broken, necessitating the use of "personal phones."

"OR staff had apparently taken photos and video of the patient using their personal cell phones, and were showing the photos to other hospital staff," according to the health department's investigation."Initially, we [investigators] thought there was only one picture taken, but later we learned of others. We also had the camera checked out, it is working, it is just too complicated to use."

The health department cited UPMC Bedford for multiple violations, including failing to protect the patient's confidentiality and privacy and for allowing people not involved in the patient's care into the OR. The PDOH also required the hospital to carry out a plan of correction, which included "disciplining an unspecified number of staff members" and "appointing a new surgical services nursing director," the report states.

A hospital medical executive committee also conducted an investigation into the incident. The investigation resulted in the suspension of two physicians. Their identities were not released.

In an emailed statement to Penn Live, UPMC officials said "UPMC is committed to ensuring that our patients' health information remains confidential. The behavior reported in this case is abhorrent and violates the mission of UPMC Bedford and the overall values of UPMC.

"Upon discovery, UPMC quickly self-reported the incident to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and took appropriate disciplinary action with the individuals involved," the statement continued. "The department of health has approved our plan of correction. We have also alerted the affected patient. Since this is an ongoing investigation, we are not at liberty to comment further at this time."

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