81 women sue California hospital for secretly recording them during childbirth, gynecological surgeries
SAN DIEGO (April 2, 2019) – Eighty-one women are suing Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego after learning they were secretly recorded by hidden cameras installed in the hospital’s gynecology operating rooms.
The laptop cameras were installed on anesthesia carts in the operating rooms to address a drug theft issue at the hospital, a hospital spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
But from July 2012 to June 2013, roughly 1,800 women were recorded in the three operating rooms at the hospital’s women’s center, according to a complaint filed in California Supreme Court last week. The motion-sensing cameras recorded footage of childbirths, emergency C-sections, miscarriages, hysterectomies, sterilizations, and a variety of other procedures. The videos even showed the women’s faces as they entered the hospital rooms for their operations. Some women were recorded while undressing, and some were unconscious during their procedures.
None of the women seen in the videos were informed that they were being recorded.
In addition to the breach of privacy involved in filming the women without their consent, the complaint also alleges that the hospital was “grossly negligent” in storing and protecting the recordings. The videos were stored on desktop computers, some of which were not password-protected. In addition, the hospital did not keep a log of who accessed the recordings and when. Further, the hospital destroyed at least half of the recordings, but could not confirm whether the files were recoverable.
The hospital insists the videos have always been securely maintained.
The videos were typically filmed from behind the women’s heads during their procedures, an attorney representing the women said. Sometimes the video depicted the women’s bellies and the tops of their thighs. In some videos, surgeries are visible, as well as parents meeting their babies for the first time.
The attorney told the New York Times she expects more women to join the lawsuit.