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Hospital employees gawked at, photographed unconscious patient with item lodged in genitals

15 September 2017

The Director of Nursing at the hospital sent a memo to all hospital staff stressing the importance of adhering to health system policies especially with regards to photographing and filming in the facility, incident reporting, and respecting the patients' Bill of Rights.

"At one point when I looked up, there were so many people it looked like a cheerleader type pyramid", a physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Bedford Memorial hospital said, according to a report issued Wednesday by Pennsylvania's Department of Heath and Human Services.

The patient arrived at the facility's emergency room December 23 for a genital injury that required surgery to remove a "foreign body", according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health's report of the incident.

In an interview with the physicians involved, each stated that the OR camera was broken at the time and that the photographs were taken for documentation and future medical lecture purposes. The doctors and employees are not named in the report. The health department started their probe in late May. As such, the hospital re-trained the staff regarding the correct usage of the OR camera. But it was "too complicated to use", investigators found.

After the officials found that the camera was in ideal conditions, they went straight to the workers and asked them what happened.

Additionally, the employees thought at first that they were going to take just one photo. However, they proceeded watching others taking more than one, so all of them continued doing the same.

The health department cited UPMC Bedford for multiple violations, including failing to protect the patient's confidentiality and privacy and for allowing people not involved in the patient's care into the OR.

The report did not mention any fines against the hospital or UPMC.

The health department also revealed that the hospital suspended one doctor was for seven days, another for 28 days, and terminated their nursing director for surgical services, according to WJAC.

Photos and videos recorded the damaged genitals, according to the Health Department. The report highlighted the seriousness of a group of workers, who shouldn't have been at the room, passing that kind of material among them.

In an emailed statement to Penn Live, UPMC officials said "UPMC is committed to ensuring that our patients' health information remains confidential".

The Department of Health has endorsed our arrangement of redress.

In a statement, Patt Keith of UMPC Media Relations said they notified the affected patient and have made administrative changes to prevent similar behavior.

Hospital employees gawked at, photographed unconscious patient with item lodged in genitals