This past July, Johns Hopkins Hospital agreed to a $190 million settlement with more than 8,000 patients of Dr. Nikita Levy, an employed gynecologist of the facility, who covertly photographed and videotaped women he examined with a pen-style camera. The settlement resolves one of the largest cases of sexual misconduct by a physician in the United States.
After an employee alerted the hospital personnel as to suspicions regarding Dr. Levy, Baltimore Police and federal investigators discovered approximately 1,200 videos and 140 images in the physician’s home. Dr. Levy was promptly fired and committed suicide shortly thereafter.
While no criminal charges were pressed against Johns Hopkins, it was held responsible for the activities of Dr. Levy, as its employed physician. A class-action lawsuit on behalf of the more than 8,000 of Dr. Levy’s patients was brought against the hospital last year, claiming the institution should have known what the doctor was doing.
The lesson to be learned from this and, in the case of Johns Hopkins Hospital, a very expensive lesson (though the Hospital reported the settlement will be paid from its insurance carrier), is that medical practices and other health care facilities have responsibility to do their due diligence, including criminal background checks, character references and the like, regarding their employed physicians and other health care professionals who come into contact with their patients, as employers can no longer bury their head in the sand and claim they had no idea what their employees were doing. Such due diligence should extend to all other employees as well, as we learn of more and more renegade employees involved with identity theft and unauthorized disclosure of patient medical records.
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