The case of Nikita Levy, who worked as gynecologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland for more than two decades, may be to blame if patients, women in particular, start to avoid or become suspicious of their health service provider.
In February last year, a colleague of Levy's at Johns Hopkins told hospital authorities that the thing Levy was wearing around his neck when conducting gynecological exams may be a spy camera .It turned out the pen-like device was indeed a camera that the 54-year old doctor used to take photos and videos of his patients' genitals during appointments.
Officials also learned that Levy owned several of these devices that have likely been used to take about 140 images and 1,200 videos of his patients that he stored on ten hard drives in his Towson-area home. Following the discovery of his misconduct, Levy who had been with the Johns Hopkins's East Baltimore Medical Center since 1988, was escorted out of the hospital.
Faced with a criminal investigation and apparent shame after exposure of his grave misconduct, Levy committed suicide. The doctor, who is believed to have started recording his patients in 2005, may have committed his misdeed alone but about 8,500 women have filed a class-action lawsuit against the hospital for failing to protect them from Levy by not noticing that the doctor was taking photos and videos of them.
Jonathan Schochor, the women's lawyer, said that Levy's former patients feel angry, anxious and betrayed.
"Many of them have just dropped out of the medical system," Schochor said. "They're not going to physicians. They're not getting tests done. And many are not taking their children, either,"
On Monday, Johns Hopkins agreed to pay $190 million settlement for the claims. In a statement, the hospital said that Levy's misdeed does not define Johns Hopkins but rather by thousands of employees who are determine to offer world class services for their patients.
"It is our hope that this settlement-and findings by law enforcement that images were not shared-helps those affected achieve a measure of closure," the hospital said in its statement. "This settlement, which has been formalized by the plaintiffs' attorneys and the Health System and given preliminary approval by the judge, will not in any way compromise the ability of the Health System to serve its patients, staff and community."
The settlement proposal is subject to the approval of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, with the next hearing set on September 19. If approved, each of the complainants will be interviewed and will have their medical information reviewed to assess their share of the damages.