SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The California Department of Public Health fined Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
The $105,000 administrative penalty is related to the video recordings taken without consent at the Women’s Center (WC) back in 2012-13.
State records show the penalty was issued in January and Sharp Grossmont did not appeal.
According to the state, “Based on interviews and record review, the facility failed to prevent the unauthorized access, use, and disclosure of PMI (Patient Medical Information) when the facility provided a ‘flash drive’ (thumb drive) containing video clips of 14 patients identified by the facility undergoing medical procedures at the facility's WC to a physician's attorney without patient authorization.”
A state report of findings noted that in May 2016 the facility’s chief executive officer reported to the California Department of Public Health that there was an unauthorized access, use and disclosure of patient medical information. The report said the event occurred on Nov. 11, 2015, and was discovered by the facility on May 9, 2016, when the facility was notified by a physician's attorney, who was the recipient of the video clips.
The state report says, “On May 25, 2016, the facility Chief Nursing Officer and VP of Patient Care Services submitted a letter to the Department, describing the unintentional disclosure of PMI by the facility. The letter stated that on May 9, 2016, [facility] was made aware of a potential breach of medical information when the unintentional release of video clips showing 14 patients undergoing various stages of surgery at the Women's Health Center was brought to their attention by the recipient. This incident arose from an investigation into the theft of Propofol (a drug used by anesthesiologists) from three operating rooms at the Women's Health Center between September 14, 2012, through April 3, 2013. The investigation involved placing motion activated video cameras on the drug carts to identify the individual removing the drugs. However, the motion activated video cameras also captured images of women's body parts, including faces, during surgical operations.”
In a statement a spokesperson for Sharp told ABC 10 News, “Sharp HealthCare and Sharp Grossmont Hospital continue to take extensive measures to protect the privacy of our patients. The surveillance methods in this 2012-13 investigation were used for this particular case only and have not been used again.”
In 2019 hundreds of women sued the hospital claiming the hospital secretly recorded them during their most vulnerable moments.
The legal claims alleged among the video recordings captured by hidden cameras were surgeries such as: Caesarean births, hysterectomies, sterilizations, dilatation and curettage to resolve miscarriages, and other procedures, according to court documents.
At the time officials with Sharp said in 2012 they were alerted that beginning in 2011, potentially powerful drugs and equipment were missing from the anesthesia cart in each of Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s three Women’s Center operating rooms. The hospital installed a computer monitor with a motion-activated camera in each of the three Women’s Center operating rooms. Between July 2012 and June 2013, the videos were recorded. The hospital says the cameras were intended to record only individuals in front of the anesthesia carts.