St. Louis Plastic Surgeon Posted Patients’ Pictures, Names Online

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ten women who went to a St. Louis cosmetic surgeon for breast augmentation surgery have discovered that their pre- and post-operation pictures were posted on the Internet — along with their names. Before being taken down, the identifying photos were available to anyone who visited the surgeon’s website or has access to a search engine. Observers say the problem of naming patients without their knowledge or permission for Internet marketing purposes is nationwide.

Online marketing is a big way for plastic surgeons to drum up business. One of their more popular tools is to put up a website with before-and-after photos of their clients. The photos are typically taken and posted with the patient’s permission after he or she signs a waiver.

The St. Louis doctor says that each of the 10 patients signed such a document. But the waiver the doctor produced contains a provision that the patient’s name will not be revealed. Nevertheless, though the website itself did not label the photos with the patients’ names, right-clicking on the photos revealed their names in the photos’ file names. In addition, in many cases, a Google search revealed photos with their names included.

The physician’s website is operated by a company called MedNet Technologies Inc. The St. Louis plastic surgeon blames MedNet for the problem. Her attorneys said in a court filing that the company negligently failed to maintain the site. In response, MedNet says the doctor is to blame and that it is not responsible for her site’s content.

The patients whose names were disclosed say both parties are to blame. They have filed lawsuits against MedNet and the surgeon, saying their privacy was violated by the photos.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “St. Louis-area woman sue surgeon after she puts photos of their breasts on the Web,” Robert Patrick, Aug. 13, 2012

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