A secretary in Pennsylvania is suing the hospital she was employed at after nude photographs were allegedly taken of her while she was undergoing surgery, and then circulated among co-workers.

Identified in the complaint only as Jane Doe, the plaintiff worked as the unit secretary in Washington Hospital’s OR department. In September 2016, she became a patient at the hospital.
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On the day in question, Doe was undergoing surgery for an incisional hernia. While she was sedated and unconscious, a scrub nurse allegedly took out a cell phone and took multiple photos of the plaintiff’s nude body, including explicit pictures of her genitals.

According to the lawsuit, Doctor Dennis Brown did not interject or try to stop the nurse from taking out the cell phone or from photographing the patient–and neither did the numerous other hospital employees who were present in the operating room at the time. The suit also alleges that none of the parties in attendance reported the conduct of the happy snapper.

The suit further notes that the scrub nurse’s alleged introduction of an unsterilized cellular phone into an otherwise sterile environment put Jane Doe at increased risk for infection and future complications. The suit also claims, “an investigation by the State Department of Health revealed that the presence of cell phones in the operating room was pervasive at the hospital.”

When Doe returned to the hospital from medical leave in October, she was shown the revealingly offensive photos by the scrub nurse. According to the suit, Doe learned only the next day that the scrub nurse had shared the photos with co-workers.

So, “in utter horror and shock,” Doe reported the scrub nurse’s conduct to her supervisors and the nurse was dismissed with immediate effect.

The lawsuit further details how Doe endured an increasingly hostile working environment even after the guilty ‘photographer’ had been dismissed. Doe admitted to further suffering saying she felt shamed and humiliated knowing that the photographs had been circulated and shared with multiple co-workers and were possibly still being shared. According to the suit, Doe “was now being treated like the wrongdoer – not the victim – and was forced to endure harassment, humiliation, and backlash.”

At one point, the suit alleges, Doe was handed a handwritten note by a co-worker. It read: “What were you thinking?” After this incident, Doe took time off work and was given paid leave by the hospital for two weeks so that she could regain her composure.

But, the suit claims, as time went by, the incidents had a severe impact on her emotional and physical wellbeing, and she began to suffer from migraines, anxiety and disrupted sleep. The debacle ended with the eventual termination of her services after she requested more paid leave and was denied it.

Doe is currently suing the hospital, Doctor Brown and the others present in the operating room for the invasion of privacy and negligence. Doe’s husband is also now a named plaintiff and he is suing the same group of defendants for loss of consortium–a tort which claims a deprivation of familial benefits due to the wrongs committed by an alleged offender.

“The dissemination of the pictures has stigmatized (Jane Doe),” the lawsuit read.

The hospital declined to comment on the case at this time.

The couple is seeking damages in excess of $75,000–a perfunctory amount likely intended to make sure the lawsuit can be heard by a federal court.

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