A woman is suing the hospital where she has worked for 15 years after a surgeon took photographs of her while she was undergoing surgery, a scenario that's basically every person's anxiety come to life.
Sheila Harosky filed the lawsuit against the hospital, its CEO, and the doctor who performed the surgery, Dennis Brown. In the lawsuit, she claims invasion of privacy and medical malpractice.
"I trusted my medical personnel," she told CBS Pittsburgh. "That's what hurts so bad."
However, the hospital claims the photos were part of a prank that Harosky herself was a part of. That prank involved putting fake intestines on her body before she underwent the surgery, but she says that taking photos of her naked body without her consent wasn't planned at all.
Surgeon Takes Naked Photos Of His Patient
Harosky first saw the photos when a scrub nurse showed it to her. There were four to six photographs in total, all showing Harosky in a completely vulnerable and compromising position, not to mention unconscious. She says the photos showed "everything," including her private parts.
"There was my private parts. There was everything, everything that you see in the operating room."
Capturing a photo of a person's genitalia is simply "egregious," according to Harosky's lawyer. They both claim that a similar incident has happened to at least one more patient at the same hospital.
"Washington Health System disputes the version of events that has been published and intends to defend the claim," said the hospital in a statement.
Of the incident, Harosky's attorney says:
"It's traumatized her. She was treated as a wrongdoer rather than victim." The "wrongdoing" here refers to the aforementioned prank. Harosky said she bought fake props from a Halloween store and tricked the Brown into thinking it was real.
"Dr. Brown is a known jokester, and I thought I'd play a trick on him," said Harosky. "That's how much I trusted him."
She could no longer work there after learning that other employees also saw the photos in question. Also, while the nurse who showed her the photos was fired, she then became subject to the ridicule and ire of other staff who were angry over losing a colleague.
"It got to be too much, I was having migraines and insomnia," said Harosky. She went to the human resources department to try and improve the situation, but upon reporting the incident, she felt as if the hospital wanted her to keep mum about it. She was also given five days off to "heal."
Upon returning, the hospital told her that she didn't have any unit to work in. Her doctor then advised her to take paid leave for three months because of the stress and harassment she was suffering from, which the hospital denied. She was still able to take the time off, but without pay. Then when her leave ran out in October, they fired her.
"This has been devastating to our family," said Harosky.