Plastic Surgeon Posted Nude Pics Online, Patients Claim in Lawsuits w/UPDATE

female-torso.jpg
If this was your body, would you feel violated?
UPDATED at 3:45 p.m. September 28 with a statement from Dr. Koo

Update 2: Plaintiffs' attorney responds. Claims Koo has refused to take down photos that she wasn't given permission to publicize in the first place.

Five women who hired St. Louis physician Dr. Michele Koo to perform plastic surgery on them say they got a nasty surprise -- pictures of their naked torsos were posted on Dr. Koo's website.

And that's not all. The pictures came up in an Internet search of the women's names.

The shocking overexposure is alleged in a series of five lawsuits filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court last Thursday. All five women are represented by Neil Bruntrager of St. Louis and are identified only as Jane Doe.

The women say that their torsos were photographed before and after their surgery, naked from chin to waist. They believed the photos were taken for the "limited and sole purpose of rendering medical treatment and administrations" -- and they were specifically advised that their names would not be linked to the photos.

But it's amazing what a Google search can turn up.

A few years after their surgeries, the suit alleged, Dr. Koo launched a website. And it didn't just contain the before-and-after pics -- according to the lawsuit, the patients' first and last names were attached to the images.

Dr. Koo's office provided us with a written statement on September 28. We've printed it in its entirety:

I want to say that I am very sorry that this internet problem occurred. I have apologized personally to the patients involved. I sincerely regret that the protective mechanisms supposedly set up by the web host failed and allowed this problem to occur.

Like many plastic surgery practices, we use patients' unidentifiable before-and-after photos on our website for the purpose of educating other patients. We obtained the permission of the patients bringing these lawsuits, and did not post their pictures without permission.

Because of a data processing problem, a few photographs later were posted in a way that allowed some patients' names to be discovered.

When I learned of this issue, I personally advised the small number of patients what had happened. I asked my web host immediately to remove the images. We also took steps to assure that this kind of data breach cannot be repeated.

The lawsuit contains a series of allegations against the physician.

"Plaintiff's photographs were used and included in this website advertisement," the lawsuit alleges. "Contemporaneously with the publication and distribution of the photographs, an internet search of plaintiff's names revealed plaintiff's photographs." Naturally, the lawsuit alleges, that led to "shame, humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety, nervousness, loss of sleep and interference" with the women's enjoyment of life.

The suits allege invasion of privacy, unreasonable "pubicity," breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful commercial appropriation and exploitation of the plaintiff's images and medical information.

The suits were first reported on courthousenews.com.

UPDATE: For more information from attorney Bruntrager, see our follow-up story about the status of the naked pics Dr. Koo's office posted online.

My Voice Nation Help
17 comments
the one
the one

They should post some nude pictures of the female doctor who caused all this and see how she likes it

plastic surgery news
plastic surgery news

Cosmetic surgery cost, can be different from a particular surgeon to another. Many components of a specific ruling prices of plastic surgery technology. Major components, including surgeons .

injectable fillers
injectable fillers

A responsible cosmetic surgeon will sit with you and speak about your desire to have a method you and your medical history, your emotional connections to other programs and a list of obtainable options if there's other reasons behind.

plastikkirurgi
plastikkirurgi

Plastic surgery costs can differ broadly from one particular surgeon to another. A number of components govern the price of a particular plastic surgery technique. A number of major components include the surgeons ...

women shoes
women shoes

How absurd. These people should be flattered that they were put on the website as a success story, not ashamed.

Abby Ghattas
Abby Ghattas

I have actually used this doctor and she is a very good surgeon. You do consent for your picture to be used. It is unfortunate that these ladies photos were used either in error or innappropriately, but Dr. Koo's office always treated me with the utmost respect and confidence.

over35match_com
over35match_com

Despite some of the juvenile comments included here, what occurred is clearly worthy of a lawsuit. Regardless of the procedure performed (whether it's for purely cosmetic reasons or for medical reasons), ALL medical procedures and conditions are protected under HIPAA law. Although it is common practice for a physician to take BEFORE and AFTER photos for their own records, that does not give the physician a license to publish them without the patient's permission. Attaching the photos with the patients' names attached is inexcusable. Blaming it on the web host is also inexcusable - the patients' names shouldn't have been sent to the web host in the first place and any reference to them by name should have been stripped from the files. Besides costing her a small fortune in damages to the patients, it will probably cost Dr. Koo her license as well (as it should).

over35match_com
over35match_com

Despite some of the juvenile comments included here, what occurred is clearly worthy of a lawsuit. Regardless of the procedure performed (whether it's for purely cosmetic reasons or for medical reasons), ALL medical procedures and conditions are protected under HIPAA law. Although it is common practice for a physician to take BEFORE and AFTER photos for their own records, that does not give the physician a license to publish them without the patient's permission. Attaching the photos with the patients' names attached is inexcusable. Blaming it on the web host is also inexcusable - the patients' names shouldn't have been sent to the web host and any reference to them by name should have been stripped from the files. Besides costing her a small fortune in damages to the patients, it will probably cost Dr. Koo her license as well (as it should).

Bob
Bob

I can't find the patients' names anywhere. I've checked the HTML code and the exif data.

JP
JP

I'm sure some money will help ease these poor women's embarrassment.

KITTY
KITTY

Those saggy and tired wanna be Sex In  the City Girls are complaining simply because they are just as ugly after surgery as they were before. No matter how good the surgeons are, they cannot, in spite of folk lore, make silk purses out of those sows' ears.@873f938ee8ef04fc94e0777794000912:disqus One of the plaintiffs had  those unsightly curtains removed from her twat. After surgery she was given a dozen roses. She asked the doctor who sent her flowers. He said they were from a guy in the burn unit who got two new ears!

jdub
jdub

To completely understand the story you should provide a link to the photos.

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