The Washington Post recently reported that a Vienna, Virginia man pressed the “record” button on his smartphone prior to the start of his colonoscopy with the intention of recording post-op instructions the doctor would give him following the procedure. The man’s phone, which was left in his pants, was placed beneath the surgical table and therefore recorded the conversation between the medical staff during the procedure in its entirety.
After he awoke from the general anesthesia and recovered enough to safely drive home, he hit the “play” button on his phone and listened to much more than post-op instructions from his doctor. He was shocked to find that the surgical team had mocked and insulted him throughout the procedure. While the patient was sedated, the female anesthesiologist was recorded as saying to him, “After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op, I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit.” When an assistant noted that the patient had looked queasy while watching a needle administered to his arm, the anesthesiologist was recorded as saying, “Well, why are you looking then, retard?” There were also disparaging comments made about a rash on his genitals, suggesting he had syphilis or tuberculosis.
In addition to these unwarranted remarks, the doctor, in order to avoid the patient after the colonoscopy, instructed an assistant to lie to the patient after he awoke from the anesthesia. The assistant was to tell the patient that the doctor had already discussed the findings with him, but the patient just couldn’t remember. If that was not enough, a false diagnosis of hemorrhoids was entered into the patient’s chart even though none was detected. Why would he do this? Evidently, the doctor felt, “People are into their medical problems. They need to have medical problems.”
The patient rightly sued the two doctors and their practices for defamation and medical malpractice and after a three-day trial, a Fairfax County jury awarded him $500,000.
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