A group of 10 Missouri women have filed a lawsuit against a St. Louis plastic surgeon, alleging that the doctor failed to protect their privacy by posting photos of their surgery results online. The online before-and-after photos of their breast augmentation surgeries, the women claim, are labeled with their full names, making them accessible and identifiable by anyone who performs a simple Google search for them.
Posting before-and-after surgery shots is a common practice among plastic surgeons in St. Louis and throughout the U.S. However, if the doctor or website company fails to remove all identifying information from the photo, including in its file name, it will show up as the result of a Google search of the patient's name. This is a relatively new issue caused by advances in search technology, and it appears to be a growing problem, with similar lawsuits being filed against plastic surgeons around the country.
In their lawsuit, the 10 Missouri women charge their surgeon with negligence for displaying photos linked to their names. The surgeon has filed a response in which she blames the company that created and maintains her website, claiming that it failed to do so in a "competent and professional manner." The company also responded, stating that the surgeon is responsible for all content posted on her site and claiming legal immunity under the Communications Decency Act, which protects websites from lawsuits over site postings made by third parties.
Regardless of who is to blame for the oversight, this is a deeply troubling situation. The photos on the surgeon's site no longer contain names, but that change is likely of little comfort to the many women who suffered embarrassment and shame at the unexpected identification of their images on the Internet for the whole world to see.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis-area women sue surgeon after she puts photos of their breasts on the Web," Robert Patrick, Aug. 13, 2012
At our St. Louis law firm, we handle personal injury cases like those discussed above. For more information, please visit our medical malpractice page.