Patient Says Doctor Let Newspaper|Peep on Medical Marijuana Exam

REDDING, Calif. (CN) – A patient claims her doctor allowed a newspaper reporter to surreptitiously videotape her while she discussed with the doctor the medical use of marijuana for chronic pain. The patient claims Dr. Cristal Speller and Natural Care for Wellness violated medical privacy and wiretapping laws, and that publication of the story in the Redding Record Searchlight, along with a Web link to video and audio tape, caused her “great embarrassment, obloquy, shame and ridicule.”

     Tawnya McKee sued the doctor and the Redding-based clinic, but not the newspaper, in Shasta County Court.
     McKee says she did not give permission for the doctor to violate her privacy during the Sept. 11, 2009 consultation and examination.
     She claims Dr. Speller was medically negligent, violated the California Constitution’s right to privacy, violated HIPAA rules, and violated electronic eavesdropping provisions of California Penal Code, for which she requests treble damages.
     Excerpts from the Record Searchlight article of Sept. 14, 2009 include: “Tawnya McKee, who has smoked marijuana medicinally for about 13 years, would like to see a cap on co-ops in the area. …
     “McKee, 32, visited Speller on Friday to ‘become legal.’ Marijuana helps McKee cope with [a medical condition]. McKee said she can’t tolerate pain medications like Vicodin.
     “‘I don’t have to hide anymore,’ McKee said of getting a recommendation, which she received after spending 10 minutes with Speller.”
     In her complaint, McKee says she “did not intend that her consultation with physician be made public,” nor that the physician “release or disclose any private medical information about Tawnya to any third party.”
     McKee claims that the “physician permitted, encouraged, abetted and solicited the surreptitious observation, reportage, surveillance and unauthorized eavesdropping of the private consultation between physician and Tawnya by a reporter for the newspaper known as the Redding Record Searchlight.”
     She claims that “the Redding Record Searchlight embedded in its website at a videotape which transmitted video and audio tape of the consultation between Tawnya and physician.”
     McKee says she “had no notice that the Redding Record Searchlight newspaper intended to or would publish an article disclosing her use of medical marijuana, nor did she consent thereto.”
     McKee seeks treble damages. She is represented by David Edwards of Redding.

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