81 women are suing a hospital in California after finding out that there were hidden cameras in the rooms where they were laboring and delivering their babies. The women are suing Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, California, after they found out that motion-activated cameras were set up in at least three operating rooms. A new lawsuit claims that female patients were secretly filmed during medical procedures, which included surgeries, labor, and deliveries.
According to CBS News, one woman claims she was recorded while giving birth to her baby in an emergency C-section. Some other procedures that were caught on video include women having birth complications, dilation and curettage to stop miscarriages. Others also had hysterectomies and sterilization procedures. The recordings happened during a period of more than 11 months, beginning during the summer of 2012. And a lawyer for one of the women state that up to 1800 patients may have been filmed without knowledge.
Attorney Allison Goddard, who is representing the women, admits that her clients are in shock over this entire ordeal. Goddard also calls it a fundamental breach of privacy. She says that so far she’s obtained about five videos and has requested 100 more to go through.
The filing stated that the videos show “female patients unconscious, undressed on operating room tables and undergoing medical procedures.” Some of the videos even captured footage of partially dressed women on operating tables.
The lawsuit also points out that the videos were stored on desktop computers in the hospital. Some of the computers didn’t even need a password and accessible to anyone since the computers were used by multiple people. The lawsuit also claims that the hospital has destroyed an unspecified number of videos, but can’t say if steps were taken to make sure that the videos are not recoverable.
"They were reckless, to say the least,” Ms. Goddard said.
New York Times says that hospital officials explained the hidden cameras for protection, not for misuse. The cameras were installed in 2012, New York Time reports, as a way to investigate missing medication in hopes of finding the culprit.
“The three cameras were installed and operated to ensure patient safety by identifying the person or persons responsible for the removal of the drugs,” the statement from the hospital said. “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 that are named as plaintiffs in the class-action suit are seeking unspecified damages.