What Your Doctor Opines Behind Your Back (Or Your Butt In This Case)

by admin on June 29, 2015

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/anesthesiologist-trashes-sedated-patient-jury-orders-her-to-pay-500000/2015/06/23/cae05c00-18f3-11e5-ab92-c75ae6ab94b5_story.html

I’m curious for others’ opinions on this story. I find it heartbreaking that these doctors seem to be forgetting this man is human and their patient rather than someone to be the butt of their jokes. I would consider telling them that they need new professions if their current ones have left them such misanthropes.

Was the jury right to award monetary damages? Up for debate. However, I do think there should be disciplinary consequences for their unprofessionalism and lack of tact. Words hurt, and words have impact.

Doctors should inspire trust. People should feel they can be completely honest with their doctors, embarrassing discussions and all. And to know that their doctor wants to help them find solutions, not make fun of them behind their backs like schoolyard bullies. But that’s just my opinion. Thank you.   0625-15

I’m sure doctors have their own opinions about certain patients of theirs and I have no doubt that there may be discussion about those patients in private counsel amongst themselves.  They are entitled to have those opinions.  However, the stupidity of this situation is believing the patient is completely asleep when discussing those opinions and it is criminally unethical to report a wrong diagnosis.

{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

GeenaG June 29, 2015 at 8:57 am

I’m stunned that the phone got into the procedure room at all. With the equipment they use this is a big no no and someone was very negligent to allow this to happen.

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sio8bhan June 29, 2015 at 9:42 am

I agree. I was thinking the same thing. Those Johnnies have no pockets, and you go in empty-handed.

Those comments were pretty awful though, no matter how annoying the patient was. Very unprofessional.

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Calli Arcale June 29, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Well, an endoscope isn’t exactly an MRI. Some clinics will even let you stay partially clothed during the procedure, and many will keep your belongings in a basket or bag that goes with you wherever you go. The phone would not have to have been on his person to record, just in the room, so I’m not going to assume negligence for that part.

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Kirsten June 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm

That’s what you’re most worried about?

This is disgusting behaviour. I have disliked many patients over my 23 years career, and I have been frustrated and irritated by many too. But while I might grumble about a patient’s attitude or behaviour to my colleagues in the privacy of the office, I would not dream of making up lies about their diagnoses, making fun of them, or expressing a wish to hurt them. These staff should at the very least made to undergo a lot of refresher training around ethics and values, and possibly they should be struck off.

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hollyhock June 29, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Most reports of the case said that his phone was with his belongings in a tub or basket on a lower shelf of the gurney.

I can’t really think of any endoscopy equipment that would be affected one way or the other by the presence of a smartphone in the room.

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Marozia June 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm

I can understand that the phone was in a tub or basket with the patient’s other stuff, but why was it turned on?

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Carol June 29, 2015 at 1:09 pm

The article that’s linked says it was in his clothes, which were placed under the examination table.

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Ergala June 29, 2015 at 1:45 pm

When I had a colonoscopy done I was on a bed and my belongings were right under the bed in a bag. It’s not done in an OR but rather in a procedure room.

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NostalgicGal June 29, 2015 at 9:15 am

That was my thought, how did the phone make it into the OR.

Yes everyone has an opinion, even a medical professional, but, the comments and stuff were over the top. (I know a few chapters can be said about me, I’m a massive pain to get an IV in as I need to be literally held down, and there’s no helping that other than knocking me out in pre-op which I usually request!) Report a wrong diagnosis? Massive malpractice case. Against the ones involved and the hospital or clinic, you bet.

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Wild Irish Rose June 29, 2015 at 9:23 am

GeenaG, it may have been negligence that got that phone into the OR, but I’m glad it happened. These doctors insulted the dignity of a patient; they behaved unbelievably unprofessionally, with an assistant present, no less. I think the jury did the right thing in awarding monetary damages. Reason: Doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.–professionals with clients–shouldn’t get a pass just because a patient or other client doesn’t hear their nasty comments. I work with attorneys. I have called them out on stupid remarks they make about their clients, because in my mind not only does it make them look like petty idiots, but it also undermines their ability and, quite possibly, their willingness to put the client’s needs ahead of their own opinions of that person. The doctor’s role is to see to the patient’s health; his opinion about that individual is irrelevant and uncalled for. Professionals: If you MUST make jokes at a patient’s expense, do it at home, in private, behind your doors, to your spouse, who undoubtedly already sees you for what you are.

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clairedelune June 29, 2015 at 9:41 am

The question of defamation is an interesting one, because I’m not clear that this meets the standard of “understood by the second party to be fact”–it sounds like everyone knew that they were making up these insulting statements. However, all that flies out the window for me once we get to the part about them putting a false diagnosis on his medical record, and instructing the assistant to lie to him. That’s wrong, dangerous, unethical, childish, etc., etc. Even for that reason alone I think he deserved some kind of settlement.

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Jewel June 29, 2015 at 9:47 am

I understand that, many times, medical professionals use gallows humor to cope with the nature of their profession, the overwhelming work hours, the unlikable patients, the emotionally draining situations in which they are involved, etc. Referencing a patient that likely isn’t going to make it as “circling the drain” or using short hand like “Shake and Bake” for a patient with meth lab fire burns doesn’t necessarily point to unprofessional behavior IF these communications remain strictly between the immediate medical professionals and aren’t excessively used. In the case of this patient, that very common OR behavior violated boundaries by the additional actions of the doctors, such as intent to deliberately notate an incorrect diagnosis and create a fake page.

It seems to me a lawsuit seeking compensation for having heard unflattering remarks about myself wouldn’t have been how I’d have handled the issue. A discussion with the hospital CEO and a complaint to the medical licensing board would have been my go-to choices. The patient’s choice to seek monetary damages is unfortunate, in my opinion, as he didn’t suffer any adverse effects to his reputation outside of the OR.

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Wild Irish Rose June 29, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Those doctors shouldn’t get a pass just because there was no visible injury or “adverse effects to his reputation.” I agree with you about complaining to the medical board or the patient rep or whatever, but all too often those avenues get you nowhere.

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theLadyBugg June 29, 2015 at 11:50 pm

I suspect a compliant to the hospital CEO and the licensing board would likely have done more damage to the professional(s) involved, with no kickback to the patient. It reminds me of the Princess Bride – “To the death, or to the pain?”

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koolchicken June 30, 2015 at 5:26 am

I’m with Wild Irish Rose. Complaining often gets you nowhere, and this should not be ignored.

Yes physical damage can be life altering. I say this having had a c section go very, very badly. But you know what hurts worse? The words. The way I was treated, then and now years later. Basically treating someone like garbage or less than can leave far deeper wounds that don’t always heal. This man deserved every penny. And the guilty parties here should be made to pay. Because this is the sort of punishment that works with these people. Not talking about how they need to be more compassionate in a board room. But by making them more difficult to insure, and by naming them in the press so other potential patients know to steer clear of them.

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The Elf June 30, 2015 at 1:21 pm

I don’t mind gallows humor. If you look at the comments, it goes beyond that. But if it stopped at just language, I’d be more wishy-washy about the whole thing. But the icing on cake is that they actually wrote a wrong diagnosis into the file. To me, that puts the “gallows humor” into a whole different light and puts a good bit of maliciousness on it. The lawsuit was correctly judged, IMHO.

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lakey June 29, 2015 at 10:24 am

My concern in this case would be due to the lack of professionalism and good judgement. I would have a hard time trusting a doctor who behaved like this with any kind of responsible decision making. The false diagnosis on the chart is even more bothersome to me than the juvenile joking around. What on Earth would possess the doctor to do that?

As far as the unprofessional joking around, some people avoid colonoscopies because they are, by their nature off-putting. If people can’t trust their doctors to behave decently during a procedure like this, they may put off getting the procedure, whose purpose is to help avoid deadly cancer.

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???? June 29, 2015 at 10:38 am

I’ve read about this story and already had an opinion about it. Although, it was unprofessional for this conversation to have taken place during a medical procedure, I can’t help but think when doesn’t a conversation like this one happen between co workers about “customers.” We are all human, gosh, unless you are a saint – somebody gets under your skin and you just want to offload by making some remarks to your co worker in private. These co workers had no idea they were being recorded and assumed their patient would be none the wiser and would never know their low opinion of him. Whose to know whether this man wasn’t just a jerk to begin with?? But this doesn’t make it right. I did think a couple of little innocent observations made out loud to the other people dealing with this man doesn’t deserve an entire law suit and monetary restitution. The fact that he took it to this level is perhaps an indication of what type of guy he is. The anesthesiologist just seemed to be getting a little too much pleasure bashing this man and took it too far. The “retard” comment was particularly offensive. The biggest problem I have is where these comments were made. . . during the procedure. Sitting in the break room – outside the medical facility – having dinner with your co workers. . . all ok in my book but not while performing a potentially life threatening procedure. You aren’t really doing your job if you are focusing on insulting the patient. Just too wrong to mark a wrongful diagnosis as well.

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another Laura June 29, 2015 at 2:51 pm

But they also intentionally falsly diagnosed him with hemroids and the doctor instructed his assistant to lie to the patient about post op visit because patient wouldn’t remember it anyway. Those are worse than gallows humor

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another Laura June 30, 2015 at 3:49 am

Sorry, I thought I was responding to Jewel.

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technobabble June 29, 2015 at 10:44 am

Discussing the patient like that while in the same room with him was a terribly stupid decision on the parts of the medical professionals and they definitely deserved to get punished for it. The medical profession is a high-stress job and sometimes a little bit of dark humor can help get you through the day.

Example: A relative of mine works in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It’s emotionally taxing – this is the unit that very sick babies get sent to. Sometimes they don’t get to go home. Going to work every day and knowing that you may have to help support a family on the day they lose a child is not a job I would be able to do, and I have amazing respect for the people who choose to do it. To deal with an environment like that, one needs to keep a sense of humor. A way they do that in this NICU is with the abbreviation FLK, which stands for “funny-looking kid”. This is a baby who is otherwise perfectly healthy, he just looks kind of funny (and honestly, have you seen a baby fresh out of the oven? They’re all kinda funny looking). This is never a term used in front of families – only ever in private conversation between hospital employees. It sort of helps lighten the mood in what might otherwise be a very dark time, depending on the patients you are working with.

That being said, calling your patient a retard is so far away from the line of appropriate medical humor that that anesthesiologist probably can’t even SEE the line anymore. Just ridiculous.

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Dessa June 29, 2015 at 10:49 am

How exactly did the cellphone make it into the procedure room? I was allowed nothing but the hospital gown when I went in for my colonoscopy.

I don’t think I would take issue with stuff being said while I was under. It is unprofessional, true, but it might just be garbage being said to alleviate the boring-ness of the job. Remember M*A*S*H? That’s just me, though; I have a tendency to ignore crap like that. The fake diagnosis added to his chart, however, should have cost the wrong-doers their licenses.

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MamaToreen June 30, 2015 at 8:07 am

As a medical biller, I can say that an insurance audit that finds false diagnoses in a chart will cost the doctor their credentialing with not only that insurance comapnt, but Medicare as well. This doesn’t sound like much on the surface, but it will cost almost any doctor their practice, as most patients will only go to participating doctors

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EchoGirl July 1, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Even in M*A*S*H (love love love that show btw) they don’t make unkind remarks about the patients — they sometimes snark at or make fun of each other, or make comments about the wounds, but nothing like this real-life situation.

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mark July 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm

I could have easily snuck in a phone to my colonoscopy. And let’s be honest it ain’t exactly sterile considering what they are doing. But since I was awake I got to watch the whole thing on the monitor and I remember the conversation with the doctor and nurses since I participated.

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Ashley June 29, 2015 at 11:03 am

I’ve seen this story all over the place, but I’ve noticed that a lot of the articles leave out the part where they write stuff on his chart that didn’t exist (like the hemroids).

So lots of the comments I’ve seen about this story is stuff like “Why are you suing, they just said stupid stuff about you?” or “It didn’t leave the room so why does it matter?”

The part about adding things to his records that don’t exist, that’s just ridiculous though, and I can’t believe any story is leaving it out because that’s probably what sealed the win for this guy and his lawyer, above all else.

I will agree that the doctor should have just shut up and did her job but I don’t know how far this lawsuit would have gotten without her having messed with his records.

Also, side note, I know nothing about how this particular procedure is done so I don’t understand how no one would have noticed the cell phone recording the whole time?

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Kate June 29, 2015 at 8:46 pm

I think it depends on where you have it done. Some commenters on here have mentioned that his phone might have been with his belongings under the hospital bed.
I’ve had a colonoscopy and a gastroscopy (yay, family history of coeliac disease!) and both times I was in a hospital gown and was provided a locker to store my clothes and handbag, so nothing was in the room with me. I guess some hospitals might do things differently.

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Reboot June 29, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Reports are leaving that out for the same reason that most people don’t know the pertinent details of the “McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit” – a lawsuit that sounds completely frivolous is more fun to make fun of. Realising that they wrote erroneous details on his chart – or that the woman in the McDonalds suit was given coffee that was way over the safe heat limit and required skin grafts when taking the lid off caused it to spill – makes it harder to mock the lawsuit, and therefore less “fun”.

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Ashley June 30, 2015 at 10:47 am

I’m not 100% sure who I’m replying to right now so I’ll just do it this way

Kate: I figured there were different ways to do it, as not every place is gonna be set up the same, it seems like if he had a locker like you did, this wouldn’t have happened. I’m glad other people caught details of it being under his bed because that’s another tidbit that other articles seem to be leaving out, other articles I’ve read make it sound like it was in his hand the whole time or something.

Reboot: Good point. I used to laugh at the McDonalds thing, then I was presented with the actual facts from the case. If more people knew the facts and knew that the coffee was well above the heat limit, it wouldn’t be as easy to make fun of. She got SERIOUSLY hurt by coffee that was WAY too hot. Like, no sane person should have ever set the temperature on the machine that high and then served it.

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abby June 29, 2015 at 11:06 am

You know, I don’t work in the medical field, but I have made some disparaging comments about my clients, so I guess it stands to reason those in the medical field probably also do the same with their patients. That said, those comments were REALLY vicious and unprofessional. As far as what monetary reward was fair, I don’t have an answer or an opinion on that. But that anesthesiologist should be ashamed of herself, and if I were her employer, I would have been mortified and would have dismissed her as well. I would expect a certain amount of venting amongst medical professionals (within a very private setting) over a difficult patient, but the comments she was making were very mean spirited in general.

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iwadasn June 29, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Venting is one thing; deliberately putting false information on a patient’s chart and instructing others to lie to him is quite another. That doctor deserved to lose her job.

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kingsrings June 29, 2015 at 11:10 am

I can totally understand how doctors and other medical personnel can get burned out by the pressures and stress they constantly face when dealing with patients, especially difficult ones. And it’s okay to ge that stress out by griping to one another. However, do it in an area where it’s guaranteed that nobody but them will hear it. What’s even far worse to me though is that this idiot doctor sought “revenge” by falsifying medical info for this patient. That is not only insulting, it’s potentially dangerous.

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LovingLola June 29, 2015 at 11:14 am

So he got his feelings hurt. Was his care lacking? Did they provide substandard service? If as the anesthesiologist said about talking to him for 5 minutes makes her want to punch him, what in the world was going on before the procedure to evoke that response?
No the professionls should not have made the comments. Hurt feeling though don’t neceeitate monetary compensation. As with anything, you take your business elsewhere when the people providing the service do not meet your expectations. You report the incident and tell them that is why you will be going elsewhere and that you cannot in good conscience recommend them to anyone you know.

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Kamatari June 29, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Someone may have responded to you already, but here I go.

The problem with this case isn’t that his doctors were trash talking him, it’s that they falsified his medical records because he was “being annoying”. Trashing him was unprofessional, but it still does happen. But falsifying records is so unethical, it’s not even funny.

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Ergala June 29, 2015 at 1:48 pm

They also put a wrong diagnosis on his chart….on purpose. When I was an LNA we were taught that no matter what you always speak respectfully around your patients. Whether they are asleep, under anesthesia, suffering from dementia and even death. We never were cross with them or said bad things, even if we were annoyed at their behavior. If we were taught that as LNA’s you would think doctors would have been taught the same thing, it’s called a bedside manner. It is absolutely not okay the way these professionals behaved.

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Tex Carol June 30, 2015 at 10:43 am

My mother swore that she heard her doctors talking while she was under during surgery on her liver, and I’ve heard of other cases where patients assumed to be under were not. So yes, don’t say tacky things around the patient, ever.

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Ergala June 30, 2015 at 12:38 pm

I woke up during my knee surgery Tex. I don’t remember anything but my surgeon told me later that I started coming to in the middle of it.

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David June 29, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Yes, his care was lacking. They put a fake diagnosis on his medical records, on purpose and for no other reason then to mess with him. That is a textbook case, IMO, of care that is lacking.

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Lo June 29, 2015 at 2:53 pm

I would write this off as hurt feelings if we weren’t talking about an unconscious patient who was at the mercy of these so called “professionals”. If we were at a restaurant and overheard the server making rude remarks about him, I would expect him to complain to the manager, not file a lawsuit. But this level of unprofessionalism is ugly and ought to be punished. For them to demean a patient like this in the operating room is appalling. And when you add to it the false diagnosis…. well no wonder they find it acceptable to sneer at their patients, they don’t even take the job seriously.

Save that kind of talk for when you’re meeting with your colleagues after work or joking privately. I don’t bregrudge them their human failings, but I worry about the patients in their care who do not know they are coming into a toxic environment like this.

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Kay_L June 29, 2015 at 11:52 pm

Yes, his care was lacking! It is up to the doctors to provide leadership for the rest of the team in caring for the patient. They literally have someone’s life in their hands. If they can’t respect and have enough self control to keep a civil tongue, are they really competent to have that responsibility? I say no. They should be fired!

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theLadyBugg June 30, 2015 at 12:29 am

In addition to the falsified medicine records that other posters have pointed out, I take issue with the idea that a medical patient necessarily has the option to simply take his business elsewhere. I’m in a situation where the overlap between doctors who accept my insurance and offices I can reasonably get to leaves me with one practical option for primary care. I can easily imagine somebody being in a similar situation for specific procedures like a colonoscopy.

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ColoradoCloudy June 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

I definitely have a problem with the deception involved in not allowing the man to talk to his doctor after the procedure and marking that he had hemorrhoids when he didn’t. That should lead to professional consequences or discipline, whatever that might be.

The issue I have with the claim of defamation is that only reason the world at large heard all this defamatory speech was that “D.B.” himself made it public record by going after the money. No wonder he doesn’t want his name to be known, now that he’s publically broadcasted very private information about himself.

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Shyla June 29, 2015 at 11:29 am

I have had a colonoscopy. Where would his phone have been? They ask you not to bring anything and then you wear nothing but a hospital gown. I can’t figure out where the phone was.

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admin June 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Probably in a bag along with his clothes, wallet, etc under the gurney.

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padua June 29, 2015 at 11:53 am

i definitely think the man is entitled to financial compensation as the conversation he overheard was indicative of discriminatory treatment. to be avoided by your medical team prior to surgery? to be misdiagnosed? to be flat out lied to regarding the accessibility of the medical team? the derogatory comments are just the proverbial icing on the cake.

and i don’t know that the doctor would be expected to accept responsibility for her actions if she wasn’t asked for financial compensation. we hear of people all the time receiving time off with pay when asked for accountability. asking for money oftentimes helps businesses take these matters a bit more seriously.

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Calli Arcale June 29, 2015 at 12:02 pm

There have been doctors reprimanded for saying things like this while the patient *is* fully asleep, after their nurses reported it. It’s improper, and implies a disrespect for the patient.

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Wild Irish Rose June 29, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Thank you. It’s all about respect.

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Lara June 29, 2015 at 12:05 pm

I had a room mate in college who was a nursing student, and she told me about how the doctors would often joke about their patients during surgery. She said they did as a means of stress relief. But a colonoscopy hardly seems like a stressful procedure, and the woman’s comments in this case went beyond mere joking around to being really vindictive and unprofessional. Writing down the false diagnosis was just one more part of the determination to unkindly demean him. She deserved to lose her job.

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Kat June 29, 2015 at 12:34 pm

People in every industry get together and complain about those they serve. This bothered me a lot when I was a teacher, because the people being served were children. It’s a big part of why I got out of that business.

The anesthetologist should have vented her opinions to her friends privately or to colleagues when the patient was gone…not while he was in the room. Finish treating the man, then complain.

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Dee June 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm

The most worrisome part of this whole debacle is the lack of care displayed by these so-called health care “professionals”. Of course we expect those in the health care field to develop a tough skin in order to cope with very stressful situations but these people clearly have lost any ability to empathize with their patients. This makes them very dangerous and I agree with the punishment but don’t think it went far enough. All of them should have lost their licenses permanently.

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Kamatari June 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm

This is so disgusting, it makes me want to hurl.

I don’t mind two employees badmouthing a patient or customer when they are alone without any other customers or patients around. I know for myself that it makes the situation more bearable when I can vent my frustrations to someone who understands. But I would NEVER consider conplaining about the person right in front of them! I work in a hospital as a diet clerk/hostess. You would think people go to hospitals to get better and go home. Let me personally assure you that this is not the case for a great many people. People go to hospitals to be picky about the food! Sometimes, my patients drive me to the edge of sanity because “I don’t eat this!” or “This food is disgusting! I want to watch the chef who made this garbage eat it and see how he likes it!” I’m sorry you want 8 packets of salt Mr. Cardiac, salt-free diet, but I can’t give you anything but Mrs. Dash! No, Mrs. Diabetic diet, you can’t have 5 desserts!

What I think is most disgusting about this is how they wanted to write a false diagnosis just because they find him annoying! I have annoying patients too, but I would never consider messing with someone’s food. I might make you wait for it, but your food will have the same number of ingredients when it arrives to your room as it did when it left the kitchen.

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Ergala June 29, 2015 at 2:22 pm

When I was a cook at a retirement home we had a resident whom had every single illness in the world (according to her). She wanted grapes but we MUST peel them. She said she couldn’t have seeds and would sit there and demand we pick the seeds off a strawberry. I made tomato soup and she refused to eat it stating the milk was curdled. Every single resident loved it and nobody else had curdled milk in theirs. However she was insisting hers was curdled. She wanted a different bowl. I tested this and brought it back into the kitchen, poured it into a different bowl and brought it back out to her. Suddenly it was perfect and why didn’t I do it like that the first time. Everyone got wheat bread except one resident whom ate the same thing every single day and personally bought canadian white. The one whom is a picky eater became irate that she wasn’t getting canadian white. She sat at this woman’s table. It was horrible. She bullied another resident about how much she ate (woman had an appetite and wasn’t overweight at all. Sweetest woman ever too) that we had to move her to another table. In the end she decided she couldn’t chew anything, nothing was able to be chewed by her. So one of the other cooks got so mad she put the meal through a blender and served it to her with a straw in a cup. That caused quite a stir (and much laughter from the rest of us in the back). Her physician had come and discussed her “needs” and he said she had none. It was all in her head. It wasn’t until talk about a transfer to a nursing home to meet her expanding needs did she finally calm down.

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kingsrings June 29, 2015 at 4:57 pm

I worked at a senior home for two years and recall several residents like that. But we would put limits on their complaining. If after everything was exhausted and they still complained, then we would simply tell them that was how it was and either eat or don’t.

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Snarkastic July 3, 2015 at 2:33 am

Going from living as an independent person to a very structured nursing home must be very difficult. It sounds necessary, but somewhat infantilizing.

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Roslyn June 29, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Wow. I wish I would have been recording at the time that the man that called himself a professional “doctor” who screamed, red faced, far worse things to me….to my face.

I have met so many vile, uncaring health care “professionals” that it left me wondering if there are any that truly care for people.

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Wild Irish Rose June 30, 2015 at 9:52 am

I bet I can top this (as though it’s a contest). When I was a child, the dentist my mother took me to would physically abuse me. I can’t tell you how many times this man slapped me across the face because I was afraid of the needle and would cry. I was five years old. He once screamed at me: “I have THREE YEAR OLDS who act better than you!” Because he would literally hit me, my mouth was always sore and swollen by the time we left. I know my mother knew about this, but that’s a different ehell story and she’s dead now so I’ll just let it go. My point is that “professional” didn’t apply to this goon at ALL. He was a bully and a monster, and it wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I finally summoned up the courage to find a dentist who was compassionate, understanding, caring, and completely professional. I was damned if my kids would go through what I endured. The only problem I’ve faced, and I have to say I’m one lucky woman, is that I have some minor bone loss in my lower jaw from not getting consistent dental care.

Perhaps my dentist’s actions were more egregious than those of the doctors in this case, but I submit that if you can’t even *discuss* patients with a measure of caring, then you need to find another line of work.

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NostalgicGal June 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm

The one time I was in the dentist chair as a minor (the rest is a really long story) –I was four, my mother was in the room with me the entire time. She sat to the side but she was present while I had my filling. I can’t believe, Rose, that your parent wasn’t there. Even for eye exams, as long as I was a minor, there was a parent in the room with me. (usually my father).

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Snarkastic July 3, 2015 at 2:33 am

Why in god’s name would a medical professional (or anyone) ever behave that way?!

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A different Tracy June 29, 2015 at 1:29 pm

To those wondering how the phone made it into the procedure room – I read that he hit “record” and then put it in his pants pocket. His pants, and other belongings, were on a shelf underneath his bed, and went with him into the room.

To those who say “hurt feelings” don’t justify a cash penalty – they also agreed to put a false diagnosis on his chart, to lie to him about that, and to lie to him about actually speaking to the doctor (or maybe they tried to talk someone into doing the last part but it didn’t actually happen?) So it wasn’t just that his widdle feelings got hurt – he truly did receive substandard care.

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ladyv June 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm

The lack of professionalism demonstrated here is jawdropping. In addition to having to make the court-ordered payments to the plaintiff, the anesthesiologist should lose her medical license for falsifying records. Too bad there isn’t a fine for stupidity – it sounds like the patient had IV sedation, which doesn’t always put the patient totally to sleep. Not to mention that studies have shown that patients under anesthesia are still able to subconsciously hear what’s being said around them.

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magicdomino June 29, 2015 at 2:18 pm

I can forgive some joking around. Heck, I can get pretty snarky myself, so I better be able to take it. 🙂 But the anesthesiologist took it to mean girl level nastiness. Adding the false diagnosis was just plain stupidity.

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just4kicks June 29, 2015 at 2:31 pm

If my original comment pops up later, my apologies.
After an emergency hysterectomy almost ten years ago, six months later I was still having considerable pain on my left side.
I made an appointment to see what the heck was going on, and while waiting for the female ob/gyn who was the doctor who had operated on me to come into the exam room, I heard her making an ass out of me to the other nurses at the reception desk.
“Jesus Christ!!! She had a total hysterectomy six months ago….there is NOTHING for her to be BITCHING ABOUT!!! Hahaha!!!!!!”
She came in while I was putting my clothes back on with a very fake cheery “well….how are WE today?”
I said, “you do realize I heard EVERY WORD you just said about me out there?!? I’m leaving and won’t ever be coming back here!!!”
I grabbed my chart out of her hands and marched out, past quite a few red faced women who had heard ME.
After several visits to various doctors, I found a wonderful doctor, with excellent staff whom I’m still with all these years later.
My first visit to him was a three hour visit and examination after which I sat in his office and he said to me, “I believe you, and I’m going to help you.”
I burst into tears as he listed several things the other doctors I’d been to had missed, telling me “the pain is all in your head” or “if you’re drug seeking, you can stop wasting my time.”

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NostalgicGal June 29, 2015 at 10:09 pm

I have had issues with things for years. I did a stint at a very prestigious medical center years back, as a patient they couldn’t really do much for. I had many tests and procedures ‘in the name of science’ and I signed away the rights to such, and became a number on a case. Decades later, I have retired to a small rural area, and we had a visiting doctor to do women’s exams; she had worked here right out of med school for about a year and escaped elsewhere. One of my persistent issues, she looked right at me and said ‘I studied/majored in this during my studies (at that medical center). This is what you need’. I smiled, I said I am glad to have lived long enough for someone to figure me out. There were some other issues, she went off on a RANT about, and it finally turned to some serious bitterness about how things were done back in her home country (she’d escaped to the US to escape a number of things there) and related to some of my issues. I tried to disagree with her high handedness, and she basically told me I was a dumb hick. I live 5 minutes walk from the hospital, so I went back and got my box. It holds my thesis, my degrees in frames, and related stuff. I brought it back and put it on the nurses’ station and she stops as I block her and say DOCTOR. And showed her the box. Then I explained about back then when I was at that medical center, and described in great detail my medical history from that time. She got pale. She had studied me. Yes she had. I also told her some things that she’d basically been high handed about (how you can get warts, okay?) and told her she was the one that needed some therapy as her patients didn’t NEED her attitude. I had enough witnesses to sue her rear off for the rest of her days over her massive lack of professionalism. It’s hard to play God, yes I DID know how much work a medical degree was, and yes beware of who you’re trashy to. She apologized before I left, she may not have meant it, but. I hope she’s a better medical person these days. As for witnesses, the entire hospital could have heard her when she started in when I DARED to contradict her about something. I think they all heard round two as well….

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just4kicks June 30, 2015 at 11:13 am

@NostalgicGal: Good for you! (Three cheers!)
I also saw many different doctors, and was told they could refer me to a good psychiatrist (aka: the pain is all in your head), or even more insulting was a few who said, “you’re not getting any pain medication out of me…nice try!” Really?!?
After months of this and quite a lot of money spent we didn’t really have, I gave up.
One day, I took one of my kids to our family doctor for a “bug” that just wouldn’t go away.
As he finished up he looked at me and said, “why are walking that way? Doubled over….what’s wrong?!?”
I said I wish I knew and told him what I had been through.
He examined me and when I nearly fell off the table when he pressed gently on my abdomen, gave me the card to the practice I go to now, which specializes in pelvic and sexual pain.
I have IBS, weak bladder issues and interstital cystitis which combined with a condition in which I form too much scar tissue, are the causes for my pain.

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NostalgicGal June 30, 2015 at 12:18 pm

I am glad you finally found someone that helped you. Crummer-bummer on that list, but at least you are being treated for it finally.

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just4kicks July 1, 2015 at 3:10 am

@NostalgicGal: Thank you, I hope your health and well being is in a good place also. 🙂
The whole “I’m a doctor and a God” syndrome really grinds my gears

NostalgicGal July 1, 2015 at 1:12 pm

She’s going to be back here this fall, after about five years. I am going to get an appointment just to see if she’s changed, or not.

NostalgicGal March 3, 2016 at 4:00 am

Followup, I did go see her again. She was a changed woman and she did thank me for the ‘110 decibel discussion’ (words mine) we had. She had been furious for about a week, then her director at her regular hospital had a talk with her about her ‘professional conduct’ and she went to therapy. She was still in therapy but making progress. And a much happier better person and doctor. Yes it was a mutual hug.

Doryna June 30, 2015 at 1:05 am

Be careful about just grabbing your chart. While the information in your chart is yours, the chart itself is property of the facility; there are laws about how many years they must keep the records. If you take your chart offsite without the clinic’s permission, you can be charged with theft. Instead, you should fill out an authorization to have them transfer your records to another facility.

That said, I’m sorry that this person acted in such a unprofessional manner, as well as the others, and I’m glad you found a medical profession who would listen to your concerns. I think some doctors just think they’re God’s gift to the world. I don’t care how skilled they are… if their attitude sucks, then they are a terrible caregiver.

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just4kicks June 30, 2015 at 11:18 am

Doryna: Thank you for the nice comments!
I admit I probably shouldn’t have taken my chart, but never heard anything back from them about it.
Hopefully that doctor is more careful with her comments to other patients.
The doctor I see now was horrified when I told him what had happened, and he said even though he did not need to, sent over copies of the conditions he found that I suffered from to this doctor.

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just4kicks July 2, 2015 at 3:12 am

@NostalgicGal: Good luck to you! 🙂

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Margaret June 29, 2015 at 3:15 pm

I had a endoscopy and colonoscopy procedure a few months ago. I distinctly remember feeling pain and saying “That hurts! Are you going around a bend?” The doctor said yes, sorry, and they probably knocked me out harder because I don’t remember any more.

My point: I wasn’t totally out, I knew where I was and what was going on. Can medical personnel really be sure that a patient isn’t hearing and understanding what they say? Could that minimal level of consciousness affect the outcome of a serious procedure?

That’s what bothers me about this case – the unconcealed contempt. The medical staff should keep their snide remarks totally out of earshot of the patient.

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Wild Irish Rose June 30, 2015 at 9:55 am

I woke up during a colonoscopy once. I remember whimpering and I recall the doctor asking the anesthesiologist to be sure I was out, but that’s it. They took good care of me otherwise. I’m with you on the unconcealed contempt. This world is ugly enough without that kind of nonsense coming from someone entrusted with your health.

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Aje June 29, 2015 at 5:39 pm

I recently started working at a new profession. Since most of my jobs happen to have been around wonderful professions (I’ve been very lucky) I had no idea people could be so rude and tacky and heartless. I’m not sure how much longer I can stay here… it wears you out to be around negativity.

That said, I feel like things were taken care of properly. I’m glad the man was compensated and that they dismissed that woman. It always seems to me that there’s one particularly nasty person at a place who brings out the mean in all the people around them. If you put those same people around professionals, they will act professional. It’s how it is at my work anyway and there did seem to be a ringleader in this case too.

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Cat June 29, 2015 at 5:55 pm

We have been down this road before. If you are a mature adult working in a profession, you must act like it. You don’t get to behave and to speak as if you were a teenager snickering among your friends. Bullying is bad if done by children. If done by adults, it is sickening.
If you need to relieve tension, find an acceptable method by which to do it: exercise, keep a journal and write out your frustrations, go home and scream at the ceiling, stamp your feet, whatever helps you, but do it in private.
What you do not do is to take it out on other people. They are not there for your ridicule or for your amusement.
I won’t begin to comment on making false statements about a patient’s medical condition. If you do that, you do not belong in your profession.

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Lynne June 29, 2015 at 6:23 pm

I don’t understand the fake diagnosis part — why would making that up be “revenge”? Or funny?

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Reboot June 29, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Some people – even supposedly mature people – still think hemorrhoids are funny. Like “lol, there’s something wrong with your butt”, because apparently rear ends are inherently funny or embarrassing. That and there’s a stereotype of people who get them being too highly-strung or too tense, so the revenge angle would be implying that he fits those stereotypes, I guess.

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Kate June 29, 2015 at 8:43 pm

I think most people in most jobs have occasionally badmouthed or complained about someone they’ve dealt with in the course of their work. I don’t necessarily think it’s unprofessional to release some stress by venting to a colleague. What is unprofessional is doing it when the person is right in front of you – unconscious or not.

On one of the occasions I’ve been hospitalised with depression, having intentionally overdosed on prescription medication, I heard nurses doing their shift changeover and right outside my room, one nurse said to the other “and that one’s self-inflicted so don’t waste too much time on her”.
I didn’t complain or mention it at the time but I was pretty upset. People don’t try to commit suicide for fun.

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Snarkastic July 3, 2015 at 2:48 am

People really have no concept of how much voices can carry. Not very kind of her!

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YAC June 29, 2015 at 9:05 pm

He recorded it because he wanted to remember trythe post-op instructions? f he was going to have a colonoscopy, wouldn’t there be someone in the waiting room to drive him home? That seems odd he had no one with him.

And isn’t recording someone without their consent illegal? It said in the article at least one party was aware. Huh?

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admin June 29, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Depending on which state you live in, the laws can either be one party or two party consent required. In other words, in a one party consent state, you don’t need to inform the other person that you are recording them but in two party consent states, everyone involved in the conversation being recorded must be informed and consent to the recording.

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Amanda H. June 30, 2015 at 12:12 am

In addition to what admin said, whether or not there’s someone to drive you home, sometimes you get your post-op instructions before your ride is allowed in to see you, or before they arrive. And not every hospital gives you a handy print-out of the instructions, or the patient in this case didn’t know that they did.

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ketchup June 30, 2015 at 1:53 am

Doctors don’t always make the right decisions, no.
My mother and I had the same GP. When I was newly pregnant more than three years ago, my mother was acting strange. Then, our GP told me she wasn’t happy about it (she’s crazy). He broke her confidentiality! And not a little bit.
Later, his receptionist gave my mother my and my husband’s files in an open envelope, because she couldn’t be bothered to close the envelopes and stamp them.

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Cat June 30, 2015 at 9:01 pm

That is horrible. It reminds me of a CPA who did income tax returns for two of my friends and for me. I learned that one of the friends was getting a divorce because the CPA liked to discuss other people’s tax information with people he knew were their friends.
I never used him again.

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Iris June 30, 2015 at 3:56 am

I work with teenagers, some of whom can be extremely tiresome at times. Sometimes it can be disheartening and depressing. Years ago when I was particularly down a colleague gave me a piece of wisdom to help me through – he said I should always remember that all my students are precious to someone, and if they’re not, well, that’s the saddest thing of all. Does that mean that I don’t get frustrated sometimes? No, not at all. But it means that no matter how annoyed I get I always remember the humanity of the person that is driving me crazy at that time and I’m certain it makes me better at my job.

I think someone needs to teach that lesson to these doctors. If you don’t even recognise the common humanity of your patients then you’re not going to do your best for them.

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Margo June 30, 2015 at 4:01 am

I agree with others that the issue of making false records and planning to mislead the patient were the things I would be most concerned about, although making rude comments about him in his presence, even if they thought he was unconscious, was very unprofessional.

I think sometimes suing for monetary damages can be the only practical way to get a result, so while I don’t think that $500,000 was necessarily an appropriate outcome as it seems disproportionately high for the injury caused, it would appear that suing was an effective way to raise the issue. I know of various cases where what people have wanted following poor medical care was an apology and reassurance that the same thing wasn’t going to happen to other people, but where they have ended up suing as they have been unable to get answers any other way. It isn’t always about the money.
I would be interested to know whether he had made any formal complaint to the hospital, and how that was dealt with.

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just4kicks June 30, 2015 at 4:11 am

When my husband and his ex-wife were married, they had been through several miscarriages trying to start a family.
Then, sadly, she carried a baby to full term, but the baby (they chose to not know the gender) died in her womb and of course having to deliver a stillborn child was beyond devastating.
As my husband and his ex cried and tried to comfort each other in the delivery room, a nurse ran in and said to the staff who were doing their best to finish up and leave the grieving parents alone, “Oh my God you guys…when you’re done here you HAVE just GOT to come and see the MOST BEAUTIFUL BABY I’ve ever seen!!!”
The doctor, a family friend, got up and physically dragged this idiot nurse from the room by her arm and screamed at her for a good five minutes out in the hallway.
My husband said that later in the day, she came in and apologized profusely to my husband and his ex, and I won’t repeat my husband’s response to her, but he had every right (in my opinion) to call her every name in the book and tell her to get the hell out of there.

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Enna June 30, 2015 at 3:29 pm

I work as a receptionist at a GP surgery and this story just made me shudder. The medical staff who were being horrible deserved what they got. Some patients (like at any surgery) can be very nasty, very difficult, very aggressive, very rude, very unreasonable, very selfish, very arrogant, very angry with no course to be and yes, such patients are described in a negative a way but not like this!

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mark July 2, 2015 at 3:24 pm

For me what sucks about this is the fear this causes in other patients that read this. I have a pretty severe anxiety about anesthesia, and this makes it worse.

It is a huge trust issue allowing yourself to be anesthetized, and this betrays it.

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lkb July 2, 2015 at 3:25 pm

In my head, yes, I know this stuff happens. I am an employee and I know there are times when I daresay any of us grouse about an employee, a coworker, a boss. But, there is a time and place. There is also a line. This incident went way beyond it, of course. (Though I’d like to know how the one doctor was released from the suit and how all the other staff fared.)

The main reason I’m posting is to ask — Is anyone else leery about medical procedures now and planning to do the same with their smart phones? I half want to, but am half fearful, for the same reason — I don’t know that I’d want to hear what really goes on.

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Kat July 6, 2015 at 2:35 am

My mom had glaucoma surgery and experienced anesthesia awareness. The ophthalmologist kept insisting she was just dreaming until my mom started repeating word for word what the doctor had said, at which point she (the doctor) freaked out and started exclaiming “oh my God I didn’t hurt you did I??” Fortunately although my mom had been aware, she did not feel any pain. I found it rather offensive that the doctor would not believe her at first.

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