In shocking news coming out of Southern California, 81 women have filed a lawsuit claiming they were secretly and illegally filmed by hidden cameras while being treated at a California hospital.
According to the lawsuit, the medical center allegedly had hidden cameras throughout the facility and recorded patients “while they were being examined by physicians, undergoing surgery and even giving birth.”
But, according to the lawyers representing the women, 81 is just the tip of the iceberg. There may be as many as 1,800 unwary victims out there who were filmed without their knowledge.
According to Fox News, “The lawsuit, filed last week in a state superior court, alleges Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa installed hidden, motion-sensing cameras in three operating rooms in the hospital’s women’s center, allegedly in a bid to catch anyone stealing medicine.”
The recordings were alleged to have occurred between July 2012 and June 2013 and are said to show the women, including their faces, as they were undressing for procedures, being examined by their doctors, or going under anesthesia prior to surgery.
"It’s such a shocking breach of patient privacy," Allison Goddard, the attorney representing the women in the case, told BuzzFeed News. "I’ve talked to hundreds of women who were affected by it. The response is nearly universal: They just can’t believe it happened."
Sharp Medicine, who operates Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego, admits the cameras were there, but claim that they were necessary for security reasons.
“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 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 hospital says all cameras have been removed and are no longer in use. They also say that at least half of the videos have been destroyed.
Attorneys for the women say that besides violating the patients’ right to privacy, the unauthorized recording exposed the women - at their most vulnerable - to viewing by people other than medical professionals dealing with their medical issues.
The lawsuit alleges that the hospital was negligent by not password-protecting the computers on which the videos were stored.
“They don’t know how their videos might be used or who may have seen them because Sharp didn’t make sure that that would be taken care of,” Goddard told The New York Times.