Dozens of women are suing Sharp Grossmont Hospital, claiming they were secretly recorded when they were vulnerable and exposed.
Motion-detecting cameras, the hospital said were meant to catch an alleged anesthesia drug theif, recorded 81 women in surgery rooms.
“I am a mom of four girls. I lead by example,” patient Jessica Lincoln said. ”I’m a pretty black and white person as far as what is right and what is wrong, and this is wrong.”
Sharp Grossmont Hospital released the following statement:
“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.”
The women are suing the hospital nearly three years after a class action lawsuit was first filed.
Patient Melissa Escalera, who was secretly recorded while giving birth by emergency caesarean section in September 2012 at Sharp Grossmont, filed a claim against the hospital in May 2016 for what she alleged was a “systemic and shocking breach” of her patient privacy rights.
Escalera’s claim said the hospital recorded approximately 15,000 videos of patients during surgery. It then turned some of the video over to other people, including attorneys and security guards, according to the claim.
Escalera told NBC 7, her 3-year-old daughter was born under emergency circumstances. Her water broke and her baby presented in a breech condition.
“When I arrived in an ambulance and was wheeled into the operating room on a gurney, my concern was with my daughter who was in distress and coming six weeks early,” Escalera said. “I was not planning on having a baby that September 4th day. It was a highly stressful and emotional time for my family and my doctor. No one ever asked me to record one of my most tender, life-changing moments. I would have never agreed to be recorded in that vulnerable moment.”
“These video clips show Defendants’ female patients unconscious, undressed on operating room tables and undergoing medical procedures,” the claim stated. “Because of the nature of these procedures, the video captured women while they were emotionally and physically exposed, often naked with their most genital areas visible.”
The hospital indicated patients consented to the video recordings through a generic patient admissions agreement since the issue involved patient safety.
Numerous lawyers not involved in the case told NBC 7, the agreement doesn’t circumvent the patients’ constitutional rights to privacy.
“Triggered by motion-detecting sensors, these cameras began recording events in these operating rooms whenever any person entered the room,” the claim stated. “These videos captured images of caesarean births, birth complications, dilation and curettage to resolve miscarriages, hysterectomies and sterilization procedures. Patients were undressed, exposed and at their most vulnerable during these procedures.”