ICBioethics Blog 

Johns Hopkins – Could the Organization have Done More?

Written by: Dr. Kathy Gennuso

Johns Hopkins Health System recently agreed to a $190M settlement — for patients secretly photographed and videotaped in the examining room by their gynecologist with a pen-like camera around his neck. During investigation, roughly 1,200 videos and 140 images surfaced on servers in his home.

Could JH have done more to prevent this sexual abuse debacle and outrageous invasion of privacy?  Not clear, but attention to this case may keep it from being repeated elsewhere!

Corporations have significant incentives to conduct business in compliance with legal requirements and consistent with their own ethics and values. To this end, they must essentially foster an environment where observant, engaged, and informed employees are willing and supported to expose potentially harmful issues/practices that others ignore or even accept.

Was there really only one JH employee like that ever working with Dr. Levy?!

Having a publicized, structured process to identify and resolve issues in place before a true whistleblower situation develops is a key tenet for ethical organizational culture. Did JH have that? That’s sometimes difficult to encourage in health care given the de facto approach of not raising concerns about other clinicians . . . especially when entrenched at prestigious, high-stakes institutions.

Yet, obviously, only one dedicated individual need come forward with suspicions . . . .

A PR piece on JH’s website defended their reputation: “one individual [Levy] does not define Johns Hopkins.” Well, they might want to be defined by one individual – that brave employee who was willing to report suspicions and end the abuse!

Mitch GennusoComment