Privacy Law

Medical Photos May Be Posted Online with Patient Names, Says Lawyer for 8 Ex-Patients of Mo. Doctor

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Ten women who reportedly agreed to let a St. Louis plastic surgeon put before-and-after photos of their augmented breasts on the Internet are now suing in federal court there, contending that Dr. Michele Koo violated their privacy by linking their names to the photos, which otherwise would not have been identifiable.

However, Koo in court filings blames her website host, MedNet Technologies Inc., for failing to post the photos in a “competent and professional manner,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

And this situation may not represent an isolated incident, as far as MedNet and, potentially, other Web hosts are concerned:

Attorney Neil Bruntrager, who represents eight of the 10 plaintiffs, says he has heard from lawyers in four states concerning companies other than MedNet. And the newspaper reports that it took only a simple Google search this month to come up with a number of patient photos, including their names and the procedures they paid for, on a number of medical websites.

By rollling the cursor over photos of breast augmentations performed by a Florida physician, for example, the newspaper came up with the patients’ names. Informed of the postings, several depicted patients were shocked, and the doctor said he immediately acted to take down the images. He said a former employee may have mistakenly failed to remove the names.

John Pellman, who serves as chief executive officer for MedNet, told the Post-Dispatch last week that doctors are responsible for the content they post on the Internet and have been advised to check their own sites to be sure they are as physicians want them to be.

“We’ve gone out of our way to advise them … strenuously, to go check,” he said.

Hat tip: Daily Mail.

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