A former physician at Sharp Grossmont Hospital has alleged in a lawsuit against the healthcare facility that it reinstalled secret video cameras to record hundreds of operations without the consent of patients or clinicians.
Sharp Grossmont, a 524-bed facility in San Diego, faced significant backlash last year after it released 14 video clips of women undergoing obstetric surgery recorded by the secret cameras. Hospital leaders said they installed the cameras in order to catch potential drug diverters in the OR.
The cameras were originally part of a year-long sting conducted between 2012 and 2013, but Patrick Sullivan, M.D., the former chief of anesthesiology for the hospital, said in his complaint that they were reinstalled in January 2016, before the video clips were made public.
He said in his court filing that he found video cameras in the hospital’s three Women’s Center operating rooms, all 12 of its main ORs and in the six operating rooms at the Sharp Grossmont Surgical Center.
Sharp Grossmont officials have denied Sullivan’s claim, according to an article from inewsource. A hospital spokesman told the publication that new laptops with built-in cameras were installed in the operating rooms but that no surveillance software was installed or in use. The computers are a part of the hospital’s SurgiNet program, according to the article, which is a perioperative anesthesia information system.
Sullivan resigned in the beginning of 2016 and claims in the lawsuit that he was forced to leave his post, according to the article.
Representatives for the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) said that secret cameras are not a particularly effective way to handle drug diversion or other, similar staff problems. It also could come back to bite hospitals that try it, as those cameras could also record footage that could be used in malpractice suits, such as a physician dropping an instrument or a patient falling off the operating table, FierceHealthcare previously reported.