A California hospital is being sued after it was caught recording women via hidden cameras installed in the delivery rooms. According to the lawsuit, over 1,800 patients were filmed without their consent at the Women’s Center at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa.
“It’s the most fundamental breach of privacy,” Allison Goddard, the lawyer representing the 81 women who filed the suit, told CNN. “It’s horrifying to think that, especially in today’s day and age of the ubiquity of videos on the internet, if one of those videos were to get in the wrong hands, there’s no controlling it. It takes your own medical care outside your own control.”
The suit, which was originally filed in 2016 but denied as a class-action, was reopened last week. Legal documents reveal that some of the videos, which were stored on unprotected computers, even showed women’s genital areas along with their faces.
The women are suing for monetary damages due to emotional distress and invasion of privacy. “No one ever asked me to record one of my most tender, life-changing moments,” one of the moms, Melissa Escalera, told NBC News. “I would have never agreed to be recorded in that vulnerable moment.”
In a statement to CNN, the hospital apologized for the incident, explaining that the cameras were meant as a security measure. “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,” John Cihomsky, Sharp Healthcare’s vice president of public relations and communications said.
He added, “We sincerely regret that our efforts to ensure medication security may have caused distress to those we serve.”