A scrub nurse was fired for violating the HIPAA Rules. Allegedly, a scrub nurse photographed the genitals of an employee–patient undergoing incision hernia surgery at Washington Hospital. She used her mobile phone to take photos and shared them with her co-workers. The employee-patient filed a lawsuit in Washington County Court seeking damages for the harm caused by the incident.
It is against the HIPAA Rules to photograph patients without their consent. It can attract big financial penalties. One HIPAA violation case involved TV filming authorized by the hospital but without getting consent from the patient in the footage. The New York Hospital paid $2.2 million in financial penalties to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Rights.
The patient in the Washington Hospital HIPAA breach incident was only identified as Jane Doe. She claimed in her lawsuit that she knew about the photos and the sharing of the photos one day after her operation. When the scrub nurse showed her the photos, she was horrified that her privacy was violated. She reported what the scrub nurse did to her supervisors and she was fired.
The action Jane Doe took against the scrub nurse resulted in harassment, humiliation and backlash. She was treated like the wrongdoer and not the victim. She experienced hostility at work and outside the hospital. The hospital gave her two weeks of paid leave to heal, then she returned to the same position at the hospital. But she also suffered anxiety, migraines and insomnia because of the incident. Her physician recommended that she take 3 months off from work. She requested for a 3-months paid leave but was denied. She took unpaid leave and got terminated in October.
Jane Doe filed a lawsuit against the hospital, a doctor who was in the operating room but did not stop nor reported the scrub nurse who took the pictures and a few other workers in the hospital. She’s asking over $75,000 in damages for the severe physical, psychological and emotional stress. Jane Doe’s husband is also a plaintiff and is suing for loss of consortium.