California hospital apologizes after dozens of patients claim they were secretly recorded

Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, Calif., issued an apology April 5 after 81 women filed a lawsuit claiming they were recorded in secret at the hospital's women's health centers, according to NBC 7.

The hospital said motion-activated cameras were used as part of an investigation into whether an employee was stealing anesthesia drugs from carts in the operating rooms at the hospital's three women's centers. "Although the cameras were intended to record only individuals in front of the anesthesia carts, others, including patients and medical personnel in the operating rooms, were at times visible to the cameras and recorded without sound," Sharp HealthCare President and CEO Chris Howard said in a statement.

The investigation into the missing drugs took place between July 2012 and June 2013. "The surveillance methods in the 2012-13 investigation were used for that particular case only and have not been used again," Mr. Howard said.

An initial lawsuit alleging privacy violations and other claims stemming from the video recordings were filed in 2016 against San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare and Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Since then, other cases have been filed, including one on March 29. That lawsuit, filed by 81 women, alleges several types of operations were recorded on the hidden cameras, including hysterectomies, sterilizations and caesarean births. The cameras also allegedly recorded women undressing.

"Our primary concern has been, and will continue to be, ensuring patient safety and quality of care," Mr. Howard said. "We sincerely apologize that our efforts may have caused any distress to the women who were recorded, their families, and others we serve. We can assure you this surveillance method is no longer in use, and we have made changes in our protocols to ensure this situation is not repeated."

Read Mr. Howard's full statement here.

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