Doctor Repeatedly Insults Sedated Patient, Patient Successfully Sues Doctor

Jul. 14th, 2015   /   ,

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When most people think of a medical malpractice lawsuit, what comes to mind is a misdiagnosis, a poor treatment decision or perhaps even a fatal surgical mistake. However, as our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, a recent medical malpractice suit stemmed from a very different type of incident.

In a recently decided case filed by a Virginia man, an anesthesiologist and her medical practice were sued for malpractice and defamation after the man (a patient) discovered a cell phone recording revealing that the anesthesiologist had insulted him repeatedly while he was sedated during a colonoscopy procedure. Back in 2013, the patient decided to record his meeting with a doctor so that he would be able to later recall exactly what recommendations the doctor had made for post-operation care. As it turned out, the audio recording app on his smartphone remained on throughout his colonoscopy procedure and captured a whole lot more than the patient expected.

What the patient later heard the anesthesiologist saying was horrifying. As can be heard on the recording, which was entered into evidence for the case filed by the patient, the anesthesiologist can be heard joking that the patient “probably” has/had “tuberculosis of the penis” and joking that a medical assistant in the room shouldn’t touch the patient as she might contract “some syphilis on [the] arm.” Further, the anesthesiologist allegedly called the patient a “wimp” and a “retard,” in addition to mocking the college attended by the patient. Additionally, the anesthesiologist joked that she would mark on the patient’s medical records that he had hemorrhoids, despite the fact that, as she admitted, no sign of hemorrhoids had been found.

While these insults aren’t typically thought of as quintessential examples of medical malpractice, they do certainly represent instances of malpractice. As our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers know, medical professionals, while performing medical procedures, should be 100% focused on the well-being the patient and the successful completion of their duties; they should not be spending time joking, especially not at the expense of the person for whom they should be caring. A jury agreed, awarding the insulted patient $500,000 in damages ($200,000 for medical malpractice, $200,000 in punitive damages, and $50,000 each for defamatory comments about the syphilis and the tuberculosis).

In defending the anesthesiologist, our personal injury lawyers know, the defense attorney argued that the man’s recording of the doctor’s audio was illegal. However, as the plaintiff’s attorney correctly pointed out, Virginia (where the incident took place) is a one-party consent state, which means that only one person involved in a conversation has to agree to the recording in order for it to be lawful.

If you have any questions about this medical malpractice case, or if you have been injured (physically, mentally, financially or otherwise) due to the wrongdoing or negligence of another, please contact our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by emailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com. We look forward to assisting you!

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