The patient, Veronica Valdez, worked at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, where she had minor surgery. She says her co-worker, an anesthesiologist, took the picture and sent it to her cellphone, thinking it would make her laugh.
"My client does not think that it was funny, obviously. She took this as a complete violation of her dignity and of her status at the hospital," said Valdez's attorney, Andrew T. Ryan.
The claim lists 14 allegations and states that stickers placed on the helpless plaintiff depicted her as a male member of a street gang.
"While the breach of professionalism outlined above regrettably did occur, Torrance Memorial is vigorously defending this lawsuit and requesting its dismissal," the hospital said in a statement.
The Valdez suit claims there may be another photo, one that is sexually suggestive, which may have been posted on the Internet.
"Most of the allegations stated in the plaintiff's complaint are factually inaccurate, grossly exaggerated or fabricated," Torrance Memorial said.
Valdez was employed at the facility for 13 years, working her way up to become a surgical supply purchasing rep. The suit says the photo exposed her to hatred, contempt and ridicule. Valdez has left her job.
"She had workplace disagreements before this incident with certain people in the operating room. Maybe that's what this is caused by. Whatever reason this happened to her, it affected her life greatly," said Valdez.
The next court date is set for November when the hospital will seek a motion to dismiss the case.