Elena Chernyakova, 22, is an aspiring actress and former Northwestern University standout. She says a doctor crossed the line when he posted photos of her taken while she was in the emergency room on Facebook and Instagram.
"If I didn't raise a voice and legally pursue this, then how many other patients would this happen to in the future?" Chernyakova said.
Chernyakova is suing Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Dr. Vinaya Puppala and Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine
Last summer, Chernyakova was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital after consuming too much alcohol. While in the emergency room, she and a friend contacted an acquaintance of theirs who was doing a fellowship with Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Feinberg School of Medicine. Chernyakova says because her family is in Russia, she thought it would be helpful to have Dr. Vinaya Puppala nearby.
"I've never been in a situation like that, so I just wanted someone there for moral support," Chernyakova said.
Chernyakova said Dr. Puppala posted emergency room pictures of her on Facebook and Instagram, along with text, including one that reads "Cuvee #bottle #service #gone #bad" and another invited friends for rooftop cocktails across from the ER while Chernyakova recovered from "alcohol poisoning."
"The security guard asked him to delete these pictures, which he said he will. But obviously, found out he never deleted them," Chernykova said.
The pictures are not being released because they are part of a lawsuit filed by Chernyakova. The suit alleges Dr. Puppala took the violation of privacy one step further by accessing Chernyakova's medical records, a violation confirmed by a letter from the hospital.
"Only her attending, actual physician can have access to her medical records," attorney Joel Brodsky said.