Women sue over covert recordings of surgeries at Sharp Grossmont Hospital

Cameras filmed activity in three labor and delivery rooms at the Women's Center at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, California.

SAN DIEGO – Sharp Grossmont Hospital faces growing outrage over video recordings inadvertently made during sensitive surgeries inside its women’s center in 2012 and 2013, it was reported Thursday.

A lawsuit filed late last week claims that operating room recordings were made without the consent of many patients who, in various stages of undress, underwent a wide range of procedures from Caesarean sections to hysterectomies, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Eighty women have already joined the suit and attorney Allison Goddard told the Union-Tribune that more are set to join.

“We will probably be adding another 50 plaintiffs this week or next,” she told the newspaper.

In some cases, video clips made by operating room cameras routinely used by anesthesiologists picked up the kind of sensitive footage that no one would want anyone but their doctor to see, Goddard told the Union-Tribune.

It is unclear exactly how many of the patients who had surgery in Grossmont’s three women’s center operating rooms between July 17, 2012 and June 30, 2013 — the span when cameras were recording all motion they detected — had such sensitive recordings made.

The lawsuit claims that Sharp “secretly recorded approximately 1,800 patients” during that span, but Dan Gross, Sharp’s executive vice president of hospital operations, told the newspaper that the health system notified 1,788 patients that they had been operated on while the cameras were recording.

“Not all patients who had a procedure during that time were captured on video,” Gross told the newspaper in an email.

Gross did not disclose an exact number of recordings that showed surgeries, or part of surgeries, in progress.

About half of the unknown number of recordings were deleted when operating room computers were “refreshed” in 2013, the lawsuit claims.

Goddard told the newspaper she requested copies of the videos for the 80 initial patients named in her lawsuit and so far has received only five videos, although Sharp gave indication that 17 more were being prepared for disclosure.

The lawsuit also targets how the recordings were handled once they were created.

The recordings were stored on each individual computer’s hard drive and systems weren’t always protected with a password, the Union-Tribune reported.

The video files were not stored by the hospital’s electronic medical records system and therefore did not have the automatic logging features that can show who accessed or deleted a file and when they did so, Goddard told the newspaper.

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