Ten women recently filed suit against a St. Louis area physician after she posted before and after photographs of their breasts on her website with their names linked to the photos. The physician, Dr. Michelle Koo, contends each patient sign a waiver agreeing to allow her to post photographs of their breasts. Although the agreements did authorize Dr. Koo to post images, the agreement prohibited Dr. Koo from disclosing patient names. Dr. Koo maintains she never intended on deliberately disclosing her patient names with the images and blames someone else for the mistake.
The federal suit filed against Dr. Koo is not based on medical malpractice. Instead, the suit is for simple negligence. Unlike in a medical malpractice case, a simple negligence suit does not require the plaintiff to present expert testimony to establish the physician deviated from the standards of care. Instead, in a regular negligence case, the plaintiff need only prove the defendant was negligent in failing to act the way a reasonable person would under the same or similar circumstances.
In this case, the plaintiffs maintain Dr. Koo was negligent in disclosing their names next to images of their breast on the internet. The plaintiffs must prove a reasonable physician like Dr. Koo would have posted only the photos without linking their names to the photos. The plaintiffs maintain Dr. Koo's negligence caused them to experience severe emotional distress.
The primary defense raised by Dr. Koo is that she is not to blame. Specifically, Dr. Koo blames the company she hired to manage her website, MedNet. Specifically, Dr. Koo contends MedNet did not manage her website in competent and professional manner and, as a result, allowed the names of her patients to be linked to the images. However, MedNet blames Dr. Koo claiming she was responsible for the content she provided to the company. That is, MedNet claims they do not control the content provided by the client. A MedNet spokesman says the company goes out of its way to advise clients to strenuously check their content before having it posted.
It is unclear, at this point, whether the attorney for the women will also file suit against MedNet. What is clear is that these women are not the only ones who have had their names unknowingly attached to images of before and after breast surgery procedures. Just recently, women in Florida and Ohio have come forward with similar stories of their physicians posting image of their breasts with their names linked to the images.
For women who do not wish to have their images and identity disclosed regarding cosmetic surgeries performed on them, they should carefully read all agreements or waivers they are asked to sign. Otherwise, they may run the risk of having their names inadvertently attached to cosmetic before and after procedures like the women from St. Louis and other areas across the country. Although the women who experience this type of embarrassment may very well be entitled to significant compensation, most women would still likely prefer to maintain their privacy and avoid such a lawsuit.
St. Louis Post Dispatch, St. Louis-Area Women Sue Surgeon After She Puts Photos Of Their Breasts On The Web, August 13, 2012.