Surgery photo leads to privacy lawsuit against Torrance Memorial

Chad Terhune reports:

During surgery at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, an anesthesiologist decorated a patient’s face with stickers while the patient was unconscious — giving her a black mustache and teardrops under her left eye — and then a nurse’s aide snapped her photo.

The 2011 incident has prompted a state investigation and a civil lawsuit by the patient against the hospital and the doctor over the alleged breach of medical privacy.

Read more on Los Angeles Times.  The medical center acknowledges the incident occurred, but denies some of the allegations in the civil suit – including an allegation that the photo was shared. The anesthesiologist and staff involved in the incident were disciplined but not fired.

If the picture was not shared with anyone other than the patient, I think this is more of a patient dignity issue than one of a privacy breach. Did the staff take liberties because the patient was also a medical center employee? Perhaps, but it was stupid and would cause any patient to lose faith in the medical center. For that reason, I think firing the involved staff might have been more appropriate if the basic facts of the case are as alleged by the plaintiff.


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