Lawsuit alleges California hospital secretly recorded 1,800 patients

A lawsuit filed March 29 alleges Sharp Grossmont Hospital in Le Mesa, Calif., used hidden cameras to secretly record appointments with 1,800 patients  at a women's health center in El Cajon, Calif., according to KGTV.

According to the lawsuit, the recordings took place inside three labor and delivery operating rooms between July 17, 2012, and June 20, 2013. Plaintiffs allege several types of operations were recorded on the hidden cameras, including hysterectomies, sterilizations and caesarean births. The cameras also allegedly recorded women undressing.

In court documents, the hospital said the motion-activated cameras were used as part of an investigation "into whether an employee was stealing the anesthesia drug propofol from drug carts in the operating rooms," according to the report.

The lawsuit claims multiple people, including nonmedical personnel, had access to the recordings and the hospital "did not log or track who accessed the recordings, why, or when."

Regarding the lawsuit, the hospital issued the following statement to Becker's: "Between July 2012 and June 2013, a computer monitor with a motion-activated camera was installed in each of Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s three Women’s Center operating rooms, where it was previously detected that powerful drugs were missing from the anesthesia carts. The three cameras were installed and operated to insure patient safety by identifying the person or persons responsible for the removal of the drugs. 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.

"An initial lawsuit alleging privacy violations and other claims stemming from the video recording was filed against Sharp HealthCare and Sharp Grossmont Hospital in 2016. The case remains active and Sharp is unable to comment further about this matter.

"Sharp HealthCare and Sharp Grossmont Hospital continue to take extensive measures to protect the privacy of our patients. The surveillance methods in the 2012-13 investigation were used for this particular case only and have not been used again. We sincerely regret that our efforts to ensure medication security may have caused any distress to those we serve."

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