Pictures of shark bite victim under investigation

By Al Pefley - bio | email

STUART, FL (WFLX) - Did emergency room staff at a hospital in Stuart go too far by violating patient privacy laws? Martin Memorial Medical Center is now doing an internal investigation.

The hospital says some of its employees are under investigation for taking pictures in the emergency room February 3 of Stephen Schafer's shark bite injuries shortly after he died and then e-mailing them to other people. "You shouldn't take photos of private moments in the hospital," said Ora Leibowitz, of Stuart.

"It should not be tolerated whatsoever. It's crazy," said Cathy Alfano, of Stuart.

"We're trying to find out what happened and to determine whether there's any processes that we need to look at or change to ensure this doesn't happen again," said Scott Samples, spokesman for Martin Memorial Medical Center.

An attorney says the hospital staff was within their rights to take photos in the emergency room, but e-mailing them to others would be a violation of the patient's right to privacy. That, he says, could be grounds for a civil lawsuit or possibly criminal charges.

Martin County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman says the agency is not conducting a criminal investigation.