Does posting pictures of emergency room patients on social media count as a violation of their privacy? Yes. Even if they're drunk, and especially if you're a doctor.
That's the basic premise of a lawsuit filed by 22-year-old Elena Chernyakova, a self-described aspiring actress and recent Northwestern University grad, who is suing Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Dr. Vinaya Puppala, after he allegedly snapped pictures of her while she was receiving treatment for extreme intoxication.
In an interview with Chicago's WLS-TV, Chernyakova said Puppala was an acquaintance whom a friend asked to stop by for moral support, since Chernyakova is a Russian citizen and didn't have family nearby.
The doctor then allegedly took photos of her, and uploaded them to Facebook and Instagram. A copy of the lawsuit obtained by Courthouse News claims Chernyakova was depicted "on the hospital bed, crying, and attached to an IV." One of the captions, Chernyakova told WLS-TV, was "Cuvée #bottle #service #gone #bad," while another invited friends to enjoy cocktails on a rooftop across from the ER.
Northwestern Memorial maintains that Puppala, who was at the hospital on a temporary fellowship, acted entirely on his own. In a statement to ABC News, the hospital notes:
Any invasion of privacy at the hands of our trusted health personnel or extended care team of training fellows is unacceptable and not indicative of the Patients' First culture of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which has zero tolerance for exploitation of private health information, including photography.
Chernyakova is seeking more than $1.5 million for the incident.