In Virginia, a man who was receiving a simple colonoscopy wanted to remember any instructions his doctor gave him, assuming the anesthesia would make him a little fuzzy after his procedure. He pressed record on his phone. When he listened to the recording on his way home, he was shocked and humiliated.
The patient accidentally recorded the entire exam and found the medical team insulted and scorned him as soon as the anesthesia took effect. Moreover, the anesthesiologist made false diagnoses and deliberately marked his chart incorrectly.
As soon as the patient fell asleep under anesthesia, the anesthesiologist began speaking on how she wanted to punch the patient in the face and “man [him] up a little.” And the verbal abuse only got worse from there.
Prior to his procedure, the patient mentioned a rash to the doctor on his lower region. Under anesthesia, the doctor said he wasn’t remotely interested in the patient’s conditions and the nice thing about being a specialist is that it wasn’t necessary for the doctor to care. The anesthesiologist escalated the conversation in saying one reason why she enjoyed being an anesthesiologist is because she gets to make people be quiet (to put it nicely).
The anesthesiologist went on to warn the medical assistant not to touch the rash because the assistant would get “syphilis” on her arm “or something.” She added that the rash may actually be “tuberculosis” in the genitals. The doctor chimed into the joke and said the staff would be fine as long as the rash was not Ebola. None of these statements were remotely true or had any foundation outside of maliciousness.
The anesthesiologist also questioned the patient’s mental capacity and blamed the patient for the extra time the procedure took, saying that his colon was unclean. She claimed the procedure took longer than scheduled because of the patient’s own negligence.
In the recording, the anesthesiologist can be heard stating that she was marking “hemorrhoids” as a diagnosis on the patient’s chart, even though she very clearly stated the patient did not have hemorrhoids, nor likely wouldn’t contract them. This was a falsification of medical records and neither the doctor nor the medical assistant attempted to stop her from marking it.
Last month, a jury ensured the anesthesiologist paid for what she said and awarded the patient $500,000 for medical malpractice and defamation, paid in part by the anesthesiologist as well as the practice.
The fact of the matter is every medical professional in that room had the obligation to divert the conversation when it turned inappropriate. Patients who are under anesthesia are particularly vulnerable. Regardless of whether doctors are frustrated with their patients, they still have a responsibility to treat them with respect and dignity.
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot LLP is a personal injury law firm that helps victims of medical malpractice in Washington, Virginia and Maryland.