By Nina

A Pennsylvania hospital has gained attention over reports that doctors and staff crowded to take pictures of an anesthetized patient who was undergoing an operation for a foreign object lodged in his or her genitals.

The event took place last December at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Bedford Memorial Hospital and has been cited by the state’s Department of Health, reports People Magazine. The hospital was alerted of the situation in January, when an employee made a complaint about the picture being circulated in the building.

When questioned, a hospital worker told the state investigators that the staff took photos to document the case “to use for future medical lectures” and said personal phone cameras were being used due to a broken operating-room camera.

The health department, however, concluded that the operating-room camera was functional and that pictures were taken on multiple phones and that the photos were shown to family members and other staffers. The Pennsylvania hospital took hits “for failing to protect a patient’s confidentiality and privacy, allowing people not involved in a patient’s care into the operating room, and allowing people to use personal devices to take photos of a patient.”

One witness told investigators:

“There were so many people [in the operating room] it looked like a cheerleader-type pyramid.”

As a result of this incident, two staffers were suspended and one was replaced. In addition, the hospital disciplined a group of staff members, and required all surgical staff to attend a meeting on privacy and confidentiality. The patient was also informed of the situation.

Unfortunately, this situation is not one that is necessarily unique. Misconduct by hospital staff has become something of a rising issue, with many reports surfacing about inappropriate behavior when patients are under anesthesia.

Hopefully the documentation of this case will be something that instigates a more pressing change in privacy and indecency policies within hospital walls.

Health‘s medical medical editor Roshini Rajapaksa, MD leaves some sound advice for patients:

“Don’t fall into that old mentality that whatever the doctor says goes. Trust your instincts, and if something seems off or feels creepy, say something. Most hospitals have a patient advocate who will hear concerns and complaints and you can always report unusual things to the state medical board.”


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