A patient who was scheduled to undergo a colonoscopy decided that he would record the gastroenterologist’s post-procedure instructions so that he would not forget what was told to him. The patient therefore pressed record on his smartphone’s audio recorder. What the patient did not know until later was that his smartphone was placed in his pants and his pants were placed under the procedure table during the procedure, thereby inadvertently recording the conservations of the medical personnel who were participating in his colonoscopy procedure. One of those whose comments were recorded was the anesthesiologist assigned to his care.
When the patient pressed play to listen to his gastroenterologist’s instructions on the way home from the procedure, the patient was shocked to hear the outrageous comments and insults that the anesthesiologist stated about him during the procedure, while he was sedated.
According to the plaintiff’s Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit filed against the anesthesiologist and the medical practice that employed her at the time (the gastroenterologist was also sued for his comments during the procedure but he was dismissed on the first day of trial), the anesthesiologist stated to the sedated patient, “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.” In response to a medical assistant’s comment during the procedure that the patient had a rash on his genitals (which the man had advised the medical personnel before the procedure), the anesthesiologist reportedly told the assistant to not touch the rash because she might get “some syphilis on your arm or something,” adding, “It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right.”
The defendant anesthesiologist also allegedly mocked the patient for attending a college that had previously been an all-women’s college, stating aloud that she wondered if the patient was gay. The anesthesiologist further allegedly stated, “I’m going to mark hemorrhoids [in the patient’s medical records for the colonoscopy procedure] even though we don’t see them and probably won’t.” The defendant anesthesiologist allegedly wrote in the patient’s medical records that he had hemorrhoids, which the plaintiff alleged was a falsification of his medical records.
The plaintiff alleged in his lawsuit that he was verbally brutalized and that he suffered embarrassment, anxiety, and loss of sleep for several months after listening to the derogatory remarks made about him by the anesthesiologist. The defendant countered that the man did not suffer any physical injury as a result and that he did not miss any time from work as a result.
The Virginia medical malpractice jury awarded the plaintiff $500,000.00 ($50,000.00 for the comment about having syphilis, $50,000.00 for the comment about having tuberculosis, $200,000.00 for medical malpractice, and $200,000.00 in punitive damages, for which the defendant anesthesiologist is responsible for $150,000.00 of the punitive damages awarded by the jury and the medical practice that had employed her is responsible for the balance).
After the jury rendered its verdict, one of the jurors reportedly stated that the $500,000.00 verdict was a compromise verdict (one juror wanted to award nothing and another juror wanted to award in excess of the $1.75 million sought by the plaintiff): “We finally came to a conclusion that we have to give him something, just to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
If you or a loved one may have suffered serious injury (or worse) as a result of medical negligence in Virginia or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in Virginia or in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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