A Pennsylvania hospital has been cited after multiple staff members crowded into an operating room to take photos and videos of a patient’s– and a foreign object that had been lodged there.
According to a report from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services, the incident took place in December 2016 at UPMC Bedford Memorial. The patient was in surgery to have the object removed.
A month later, a hospital employee came forward to complain that photographs of the patient were being circulated among the staff. Apparently, staff members took photos and videos with their personal phones.
There were a “ton” of people in the operating room, one staff member recalled during the Department of Health’s investigation.
“I was attending to the patient and at one point when I looked up there were so many people it looked like a cheerleader type pyramid,” another staffer said.
According to the report, one employee said that a physician had requested a photo be taken “to use for future medical lectures.”
“We have a camera in the OR for that purpose, but it was reportedly broken and so personal phones were used,” the employee continued. “Initially, we thought there was only one picture taken but later we learned of others. We also had the camera checked out, it is working, it is just too complicated to use.”
A different staff member said: “It was a couple days before Christmas, I received a picture text on my phone from Anesthesia, made a comment and moved on. We do pass on interesting stuff.”
Still another staff member admitted to taking photos and sharing them with a spouse.
The incident resulted in the suspension of two doctors and discipline for all involved staff members with “evidence of this discipline placed into each individual’s human resource file.”
In a statement, UPMC said the hospital is “committed to ensuring that our patients’ health information remains confidential.”
“The behavior reported in this case is abhorrent and violates the mission of UPMC Bedford and the overall values of UPMC,” the statement continues. “Upon discovery, UPMC quickly self-reported the incident to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and took appropriate disciplinary action with the individuals involved. The Department of Health has approved our plan of correction.”
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