John Hopkins Hospital has agreed to settle with thousands of patients over claims that gynecologist Dr. Nikita Levy had been recording patient appointments for years.
On February 4, 2013, a colleague of Levy’s reported to supervisors at John Hopkins in Baltimore that she suspected the pen Levy always wore around his neck was actually a spy camera. Upon inspection, the object was a spy camera. What’s more, officials found several similar cameras in his office, which he had used over the past 25 years to take pictures and videos of his patients.
Levy was escorted from the hospital. When the Baltimore police began investigating the incident, Levy took his own life.
Last month, it was announced that that attorneys for Levy’s patients and John Hopkins had agreed on a $190 million settlement to be paid to the patients victimized by Levy by the hospital’s insurers.
The plaintiff’s attorney released a statement the same day, remarking on the relief felt by the victims of the incident. “When learning of Dr. Levy’s behavior, our clients were extremely distraught,” said the attorneys. “They felt a great breach of faith and trust. They felt betrayed. Now, with this proposed settlement, we can begin the process of healing our community.”
Investigators suspect Levy acted alone. Attorneys stated that 1,200 video clips had been found on 10 hard drives in his Towson-area home. Attorneys found it impossible to identify victims identities through the pictures taken.
“What is the normal expected reaction of a patient of an OB-GYN who finds out that her doctor, who she intimately trusts … secretly videotaped and took photographs of his patients?” said attorney Jonathan Schochor at a Monday news conference. “Is it appropriate for that patient to believe she was included? It is.”
The class-action lawsuit identified over 9,000 plaintiffs, claiming that Johns Hopkins had failed to protect their patients by failing to notice Levy’s illicit behavior. Attorneys may have reason to believe supervisors at the hospital were unreasonably oblivious, since there were instances where Levy had conducted routine supervised exams in the presence of a chaperon. Attorneys claim in these exams, Levy committed an excessive number of “boundary violations” with patients. “We have no information as to what motivated Dr. Levy,” said Schocor.
John Hopkins attorney Donald DeVries denies claims that the hospital should have been aware of Levy’s behavior sooner, adding that the recordings were a “colossal breach of trust.”
“It’s one of those situations where no matter what rules and regulations you put in place … there’s not a thing you can do to prevent that,” claimed DeVries.
Hospital officials noted that the incident is not representative of the hospital’s other employees or practices. “We assure you that one individual does not define Johns Hopkins,” they said. Johns Hopkins is defined by the tens of thousands of employees who come to work determined to provide world-class care for our patients and their families.”
The settlement will be approved by a judge in the next hearing scheduled for September 19.