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Patients sue surgeon over traceable images

Article-Patients sue surgeon over traceable images

St. Louis — Ten women are suing a St. Louis plastic surgeon after discovering pictures of their breast augmentation surgeries could be found online through a search of the patients’ names.

Michele Koo, M.D., is being sued in federal court for negligence for displaying photographs linked to the patients’ names on her website, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The problem may be widespread, impacting patients of surgeons around the country.

The photos were used as a promotional tool on Dr. Koo’s website to show before-and-after images of patients, the Post-Dispatch reports. They were not publicly marked with the patients’ names, but their identities were embedded in the computerized image file information, which may be displayed with the photo during an Internet search.

The images typically didn’t show faces and were authorized by patients on the condition of confidentiality, the Post-Dispatch reports.

Court records allegedly show that Dr. Koo’s patients had signed waivers allowing her to use images “for the purpose of informing the medical profession or the general public.” The next line of the waiver stipulates that identities should remain confidential.

The waiver appears to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), so long as the photos do not reveal identities, the Post-Dispatch reports.

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