UPMC genital photos: Unprofessional & outrageous
“Unprofessional” and “outrageous” are just two fitting descriptions of the indignity to which a UPMC Bedford Memorial patient with a genital injury was subjected when hospital staff photographed the injury with their cellphones. Then they reportedly circulated the images around the hospital — and even shared them with at least one employee's spouse.
Staff conduct in this Dec. 23 episode shockingly demonstrated utter disregard, if not outright contempt, for the privacy and confidentiality any patient expects — regardless of what treatment is being administered. That UPMC self-reported the incident to the state Health Department in no way mitigates its seriousness — or excuses what investigators say happened.
A doctor wanted a photo taken with an operating-room camera for future medical lectures. Staff thought it was broken, so out came their personal phones — and into that OR came staffers with no business being there, so many that one likened the scene to a “cheerleader-type pyramid.”
Even worse, investigators determined that the OR camera wasn't broken, but “just too complicated to use” — which raises troubling questions about staff training.
The Health Department issued citations but mentions no fines. The hospital suspended two doctors and replaced its nursing director for surgical services. Whether a criminal investigation will occur is unclear. What is clear is that, isolated incident or not, this is an egregious breach of patient trust in medical professionals.