Sharp Hospital apologizes for inadvertently filming C-sections, giving recordings to lawyer

A drug diversion investigation gone wrong at Sharp Grossmont Hospital resulted in filming patient procedures in the operating room without those patients' permission. The hospital, which then provided some of those video clips to an attorney, which is considered a breach of medical privacy, is now apologizing for its actions, reports KPBS.

The La Mesa, Calif.-based hospital mounted video cameras inside computer monitors attached to mobile anesthesia machines in ORs to investigate the possibility of someone stealing sedatives from the carts. The surveillance began in July 2012 and continued for one year. When officials reviewed the tape, they realized they had accidentally filmed women undergoing cesarean sections, taping the procedures without the women's consent.

However, the surveillance tapes also captured an anesthesiologist, Adam Dorin, MD, putting bottles of drugs in his pockets, according to the report. The hospital temporarily suspended Dr. Dorin for allegedly taking the sedatives, but lifted the suspension the next day upon learning the sedative, propofol, was in short supply, and physicians often took bottles to prepare for emergencies, according to the report.

The Medical Board of California launched its own investigation into Dr. Dorin's actions when the hospital's former senior vice president and CEO Michele Tarbet alerted the medical board of Dr. Dorin's suspension and alleged behaviors.

Sharp sent the medical board a thumb drive with 12 video clips that it said showed Dr. Dorin taking the drugs from the carts, but no identifying images of women. The medical board subsequently filed a formal accusation against the anesthesiologist. Dr. Dorin then hired Duane Admire as his defense attorney.

Mr. Admire has asked to review all the surveillance tapes taken, approximately l4,000 video clips, because he believes they will clear Dr. Dorin's name by showing him replacing bottles in other carts or using the drugs on patients, according to the report. Sharp refused to do so, saying releasing the videos would breach patient privacy.

However, Sharp did send Mr. Admire a thumb drive with approximately 77 video clips in response to his request for material. Mr. Admire said part of his review of the evidence included identifiable images of women in the operating rooms, according to the report.

Now, the hospital has apologized for its breach of patient privacy.

"It recently came to our attention that Sharp, in response to Dr. Dorin's attorney's request for evidentiary material, mistakenly provided Mr. Admire with video clips that included patients in the operating room," according to a statement from Sharp. "We have confirmed the information we provided to Mr. Admire did have 14 clips that included patients within them. Our intention was to send the attorney only the same video clips that were sent to the California Medical Board…that contained no video of patients."

The statement indicates officials are reviewing the clips and matching them to the surgery schedules to identify which patients were recorded. The hospital will then notify the patients.

The California Department of Public Health told KPBS it is aware of the alleged incident and is investigating if it is a HIPAA violation.

Dr. Dorin denies using or stealing drugs from the hospital for purposes other than patient care, according to the report. He resigned from the hospital in October 2013.

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