Lawsuit alleges hospital employee took photos of burn victim, shared online

Portland, Ore.-based Legacy Health is facing a federal lawsuit over allegations a former employee shared images of a burn victim who later died from his injuries, The Oregonian reported May 22.

The parents of 31-year-old Seth Thompson, who died at Portland's Legacy Emanuel Medical Center after suffering severe burns during a July 2021 fire in the city, allege that one or more of the hospital's employees took photos of his remains and shared them electronically with people not involved in his care "for entertainment and amusement," according to the story. The plaintiffs "feel ill" at the thought of people "gawking at gratuitous images of their deceased child" and worry they'll one day come across the photos online, the lawsuit stated.

Legacy Health told the news outlet the person who allegedly shared the photos was no longer employed at the health system as of Dec. 23, 2021.

"At Legacy Health, the safety and protection of our patients is our top priority," the health system said in a statement to the newspaper. "Legacy Health has a policy in place that adheres to all HIPPA Privacy laws and regulations to protect individuals' medical records and other individually identifiable health information. We are unable to comment further on pending litigation."

The plaintiffs are seeking more than $75,000 in damages plus punitive damages against the hospital and any staffer who shared the photos "in an amount appropriate to punish them and make an example of them to the community," the newspaper reported, citing the complaint.

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