A physician who formerly practiced at Houston Methodist Hospital has alleged that the facility recorded phone calls between medical staff and patients.
The lawsuit was filed by Eric Haufrect, MD, who claims that a nurse told him about the recordings in October 2016. After emailing hospital administrators, Haufrect alleges that he was told that the recordings were hospital policy and had been happening for eight years without consent from staff or patients. If accurate, the Houston Chronicle reports that the practice would violate state and federal privacy laws.
Haufrect, an OB-GYN doctor who had been practicing at Houston Methodist since 1977, also claims that after he complained to hospital officials about the taped calls, they engaged in a “whisper campaign” to tarnish his reputation. Two months after raising the issue, he was asked to resign.
Houston Methodist has denied that it retaliated against Haufrect.
“Let me assure you that there was no campaign to impugn Dr. Haufrect, who lost his leadership position because he did not fulfill his duties,” the hospital’s CEO said in an emailed statement.
Haufrect, who was known for having famous patients and reportedly delivering babies for numerous players in the Astros’ lineup, was first asked to step down as vice chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department — a post he had for eight years. He refused, and within a month, Haufrect’s lawsuit says he learned that he was being fired completely.
A lawyer familiar with the case said that if the allegations are true, the hospitals actions are “doubly appalling.” The same lawyer also hypothesized that the hospital could have been taping the calls to protect itself against malpractice claims.
While it is permissible to tape phone calls regarding appointments, the Texas Health and Safety Code prohibits hospitals from recording confidential information.
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