Filming of women's gynecological surgeries draws hospital's apology; lawsuits pending

A California hospital issued an apology to several women this week who have filed lawsuits claiming they were unknowingly filmed during gynecological surgeries.

Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, Calif., issued a statement Monday apologizing to more than 80 women who are suing the medical facility, saying they were accidentally recorded by motion-activated cameras installed in three separate operating rooms in an effort to catch someone who had been stealing drugs.

Hospital officials discovered in 2011 that someone had been taking “powerful drugs” and equipment from anesthesia carts in several operating rooms.

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After the hospital was unable to find the thief using “other investigative methods,” officials decided to install a computer monitor with a motion-activated camera in direct view of the anesthesia carts.

“Although the cameras were intended to record only individuals in front of the anesthesia carts, others, including patients and medical personnel in the operating rooms, were at times visible to the cameras and recorded without sound,” the statement read.

Plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed three years ago include one woman who said she was recorded while giving birth by emergency cesarean section.

“The purpose of this investigation was to determine how the anesthesia drugs were going missing in order to ensure patient safety and quality of care,” the hospital’s statement said.

The thief was eventually caught using the hidden cameras and officials said that the individual was no longer affiliated with the hospital.

The hospital said that while it is unable to comment further on the lawsuits, it did say that the videos in question were kept in a “secured safe” and were then provided to third parties as a part of the litigation.

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“We sincerely apologize that our efforts may have caused any distress to the women who were recorded, their families, and others we serve.”

Officials said the camera system is no longer in place.