The Pennsylvania Health Department cited a UPMC hospital in Bedford where the staff used smartphones to take pictures of a patient who had been treated in December for a genital injury. Now, two doctors have been suspended, and the nursing director for surgical services has been replaced.

A worker had complained about a photo of a patient that was circulating within the hospital. When the officials went to investigate, another employee told them that it was not just one photo taken by just one person. The operating room on Dec 23, according to, looked “like a cheerleader-type pyramid,” an employee said, referring to all the people who were there taking pictures of the patient.

Image Credit: The Cheat Sheet
Image Credit: The Cheat Sheet

However, the one who gave the workers permission to start taking pictures was the same doctor who performed the operation, who supposedly lacked a camera at that moment and wanted to record the results for future medical lectures.

The report was issued after the investigation was held between May 23 and June 9. The doctors and employees are not named in the report.

“The existing camera in the operating room was examined after this event and found to work correctly,” wrote the Health Department in a statement. “Staff were educated by the clinical coordinator of the operating room regarding correct operation of the camera.”

The camera was “just too complicated to use.”

After the officials found that the camera was in perfect conditions, they went straight to the workers and asked them what happened. The employees said that personal phones were used even after they found that the hospital camera was indeed functional. They considered the hospital camera “just too complicated to use.”

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 several violations after it found that the establishment had failed on protecting the confidentiality and privacy of the patient and that unauthorized people were allowed to enter to the operating room.

The report did not mention any fines against the hospital or UPMC. However, the hospital proceeded to suspend one doctor involved in the operation for seven days, and another for 28 days. Both doctor’s identities remain confidential.

Many employees had photos and videos of the genitals

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 a statement, UPMC said: “Upon discovery, UPMC quickly self-reported the incident to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and took appropriate disciplinary action against the individuals involved. The Department of Health has approved our plan of correction. We have also alerted the affected patient. Since this is an ongoing investigation, we are not at liberty to comment further at this time.”

Along with the suspensions, the Health Department also is meeting on privacy and confidentiality with all the surgical staff, in particular with those employees who were at the moment of the operation.

Source: Tribune-Review