Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Tenet Healthcare Corp. was sued Thursday by a woman who alleges a nurse at a Lakewood hospital prevented her from taking a final photo of her mother, who died in the facility last year, even though the plaintiff had previously obtained permission to do so.

Diane Markoff’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress by Tenet and the Lakewood Regional Medical Center. She seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

A Tenet representative did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

The suit states that Markoff’s mother, Gertrude Markoff, died at the hospital last Jan. 14. But when her daughter tried to take a final photo of her mother in the moments after the death as part of her grieving process, a nurse blocked the plaintiff’s view and waved her hands over the decedent’s face, the suit states.

The nurse also told Markoff to turn over her camera or delete the photos, according to the complaint. The nurse cited the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy rule to justify her actions, the suit states.

However, Markoff had obtained permission the day before from a Tenet director of quality to take the photo when her mother died and urged the nurse to check the patient’s medical records, the suit states. Markoff also asked the nurse to consult with the charge nurse on duty when the authority to photograph was entered into the medical chart, the suit states.

Instead of relenting, the nurse “became even more hostile and aggressive” and “acted in such a manner that was calculated to be intimidating and even vindictive,” the suit alleges.

At Markoff’s request, the attending physician spoke to the nurse to let her know that taking the photo was permitted, the suit states. Although Markoff believes the doctor explained to the nurse that taking the photograph was allowed, she did not change her position, the suit states. Instead, the nurse made an entry into the decedent’s chart stating that although another charge nurse told her Tenet allowed family members to photograph patients so long as staff member  images were not captured as well, she was not convinced because her boss did not provide her proof of the policy, the suit states.

“Plaintiff found herself being hurried out of the hospital by hospital staff, including (the nurse) and (two) security guards,” the suit states.

–City News Service

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