A Major Trash-Talking “FAIL”

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

So you have a gastroenterologist, an anesthesiologist and a medical assistant….

Sounds like the beginning of a tawdry joke for the medically inclined, doesn’t it? Right—we wish that were the case.

Instead, what you have is a trio of medical professionals who failed to uphold the ultimate caregiving commandment:

Respect thy patient. 

According to a recent article by The Washington Post, a surgical team in Virginia has found themselves in hot water after a patient accidentally recorded a conversation taking place between the three medical professionals while he was anesthetized. Yes, seriously. Needless to say, the comments were less than flattering. Here are some snippets:

- “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.” (Said the anesthesiologist to the patient.)

- “Some syphilis on your arm or something.” Followed by “It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right.” (Said in reference to a rash on the patient’s arm.)

- “Well, why are you looking, then, retard?” (Again, said the anesthesiologist, when the patient mentioned a fear of needles.)

You get the point, and you can also find the full recording here. This is not good behavior for a team of ultra-chatty docs and nurses with whom a man entrusted his life. Who was vulnerable. Who was unable to defend himself.

Until now, that is.

Now, his last-laugh response will cost the anesthesiologist’s employers anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 in punitive damages. Think: defamation, malpractice—the whole shebang.

What do you think? Is the punishment fitting? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. 


This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

12 COMMENTS

  1. When people get to the point that they cannot continue to show respect they need to change professions. This is not just for my fellow healthcare workers, it means the cashiers who are rude, or servers who are rude, or whoever you are and whatever you are doing for a living…..if you have to be hateful, rude, and down right mean…..get another job! Burn out is the best word to describe this. I seriously doubt when each of them decided to pursue their career it was so they could speak badly about patients, at some point in it all they had the desire to help others, or to cure illness, or fix broken things…or something that was noble. They have lost sight of that kind heart that led them there, and it is time to move on.

  2. This is one made my soul hurt. This doctor should have her license pulled and never be allowed to be a doctor again. I’m not sure why she’s in it except for money. It’s disgusting. Every day thousands of people everywhere trust healthcare workers with their lives, their bodies and their emotions. People like this lack empathy and that’s a dangerous type of person that I as a nurse do not want anywhere near myself, let alone patients.

  3. How sad! I am shocked to learn that there are so-called professionals that would talk this way to a patient, regardless of whether the patient is conscious or not! It’s bad enough when nurses or other healthcare workers trash-talk patients in private, but in front of the patient is just plain insensitive and stupid!

  4. Gee, if I had $500,00 for every time someone said mean things about me, I could retire from teaching. Were these people being unprofessional? Yes. Did THEY publish the conversation? No. You can’t tell me that this is an isolated incident. Co-workers often talk about the people they are serving. It’s not nice, but it’s not illegal either. I would have loved to know what happened in the office before the recording took place. Obviously this guy presented himself in a manner that was likely to be disrespectful …… only he did it to their face, while they were awake. Their frustration with him came out in their conversation. But it wasn’t a conversation that intended to be heard. So where is the malice? It is lawsuits like this that raise healthcare costs for all of us. $500,000 because “they were mean to me.” Give me a break.

    • I agree. If I had $500,000 for every time a patient was disrespectful or mean to me I’d be a billionaire. As a healthcare professional you are not allowed to say what your thinking to their face, your expected to smile and just take it. So they let off a little steam when they thought he wasn’t listening. My question is how do we know it was an “accident” that he recorded them. In many states it is illegal to record someone without their knowledge.
      Example of my last encounter with a rude patient- I walk into the patients room to find out what he needed he tossed his water pitcher at me and says “why don’t you fetch me some water” , to which I replied, with a smile, of course, “physical therapy thinks its time for you to get on your feet, the water station is down the hall to your right”.

  5. Makes one never want to ‘go under’. Wretched behavior. Maybe there should be a CEU category for clinical counseling- something I had to take 3 classes in at acupuncture school, and many students scoffed at it. Those people should be working on subway tracks or something- actually- maybe that should be their punishment.

  6. I knew a few (not all) anesthesiologists who went into that field because they did not want to deal with conscious patients. Unfortunately now, with new technologies, they can get caught. Good for the jury, fire or seriously re-educate the doctor.

  7. Throw the book at them…No one has to repeat how unprofessional, insensative, immature. I can’t say enough American’s even so called educated people can’t keep their wits about them and stay professional. What a bunch of idiots.

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