Inside the medical practice at Joy Internal Medicine in Cleveland
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio — It’s the name of the Cleveland hospital where doctors, nurses and residents treat patients, and it’s also the name on a massive network of social media posts from the hospital that critics say show a cozy relationship between some doctors and patients.
But now, some say the hospital has a much darker side.
For years, doctors have shared photos of themselves with their patients online.
That included photos that appeared in the pages of a medical journal and were posted in social media, according to internal documents obtained by ABC News.
A group of former patients and family members filed a lawsuit last year against Joy and other Ohio hospitals, claiming they were deceived by some of the doctors.
In some cases, doctors shared photos that were doctored and altered, according the lawsuit.
A hospital official said the doctors were not aware of the problems, but the photos were shared without their knowledge or consent.
Joy spokeswoman Heather Burch said in an email that the hospital “never shared doctored images.”
“The photos are of doctors and are not intended to disparage anyone.
We have an open communication policy with patients and staff,” she wrote.
Burch said Joy has “an excellent reputation for patient care and care of our patients.”
The lawsuit was filed last year in U.S. District Court in Cleveland by four former patients of Joy, including one who died of cancer.
The lawsuit alleges that at least one doctor abused his position as a family doctor to sexually harass, abuse and abuse patients.
It also claims that the abuse included touching and touching of the genitals, making inappropriate comments about women and a sexual relationship with one of the patients, who is a patient of a former nurse.
The lawsuit says that one of those former patients, a mother, died of breast cancer.
It was a scandal that would eventually reach the national spotlight, when a photo from a hospital photo album was published in a national medical journal.
The photo shows former nurses and a nurse’s assistant posing with two men who are shown holding hands.
The photos were posted by the hospital and were shared on social media.
Joy issued a statement on its Facebook page denying that any staff members shared the photos.
It said it has “great empathy” for the patients who are hurt by this incident.
The suit filed by former patients alleges that Joy had “a history of sexual harassment and discrimination against its patients, as well as the employees who served as doctors.”
Joy was the site of one of two U.C.L.A. lawsuits against it in 2015, which was dismissed.
A second suit filed in 2017 by two former patients said Joy “fraudulently and illegally misappropriated more than $20 million from patients in violation of the law.”
A spokeswoman for the state’s attorney general’s office, Michael E. Whelan, said in a statement that the lawsuit filed by the former patients is “without merit.”
He added that the state will “fully cooperate with our law enforcement partners in this matter.”
Joy has a strong reputation in the Cleveland area and across the country, where it has been a magnet for high-tech workers, doctors and tech companies.
A 2014 study found that it had 1,300 doctors and other employees in the city.
More:Former patient, family sue for ‘sexual harassment’ and ‘harassment’Joy, like many hospitals, has faced lawsuits alleging that it failed to provide safe, comfortable and secure living conditions for its employees.
The Cleveland Clinic, a large health system, settled a $8.5 million lawsuit in 2016 for $5.5 billion.
But Joy, like other hospitals, said it is dedicated to patient care.
The hospital was cited in a U.K. Health Care Quality Index report for providing safe, secure and high-quality care to nearly 4 million patients in 2015.
The hospital also was cited for treating nearly 1.7 million hospital patients, an increase from the previous year.
Joy has faced criticism for some of its practices.
In one incident, former patients claimed that nurses sexually harassed them.
Joy did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News for this story.