I just saw this article about a physician (anesthesiologist) who "trashes a sedated patient - and it ends up costing her":
1. It wasn't only the anesthesiologist who did this. It was several people in the surgical team including another physician - i.e. the gastroenterologist.
2. True, this was rude talk by the surgical team including physicians. It also shows their lack of judgment.
3. That said, I wonder why the gastroenterologist (let alone other medical staff) wasn't likewise penalized since he too made similar remarks about the patient? Instead, he was "dismissed from the case." I guess he has a really good lawyer!
4. Or, maybe more likely, he was the patient's personal physician, has a good rapport with his patient, and apologized to the patient. Whereas most patients have no idea who their anesthesiologist is. It's probably easier for most people to sue an anonymous person than someone the person knows.
5. I don't buy the explanation in the article that the patient recorded the conversation "to capture the instructions his doctor would give him after the procedure." That's because the instructions are hardly instructions at all. The instructions before a procedure would be something like: just close your eyes, breathe in the anesthetic, and fall asleep. The instructions after a procedure would be something like: open your eyes, relax, rest. Why would anyone need to record these sorts of instructions?
6. I could be mistaken, but I thought legally people (including patients and physicians) are prohibited from recording conversations without obtaining written informed consent.
Indeed, the patient wasn't even part of the conversation, yet he recorded it presumably without other parties' informed consent. This sounds amiss to me, but then again I'm no lawyer.
The article notes Virginia (where this incident occurred) is a "'one-party consent' state, meaning that only one person involved in a conversation need agree to the recording." But would any of the doctors or nurses agreed to have the conversation recorded?
Or is this somehow suggesting only the patient needs to "consent" to his own recording? If so, then this seems quite unfair to the people being recorded! (I'm looking at you, NSA! Just kidding.)
7. By the way, putting legality aside, I'm not suggesting it's always unethical to secretly record a conversation. It could be the patient had a justifiable reason to secretly record the conversation. Although the article doesn't tell what the reason would be in this case.
However, imagine how the media would've liked to see this play out if a doctor was caught secretly recording a patient, even if the doctor had a justifiable reason to do so.
8. All that said, the patient was awarded $500k and the doctor lost her job. Granted, I don't know how the law works, but this seems to be out of proportion to the remarks made and "distress" caused to the patient. I would've instead expected at most something like a few thousand dollars, free counseling sessions for the patient, maybe the state medical board reprimanding the physicians.
9. I suppose the main lesson is doctors always need to tread very carefully. Always watch what they say and do. Always be on guard. Never say stuff like a patient is fat and needs to lose weight, in case it comes back to haunt the doctor! In short, be afraid to speak your mind, otherwise risk getting sued. I suppose this is the price of living in a society which kowtows to political correctness. Where coarse and inappropriate talk may be mistaken for slander or defamation. Where surveillance is ubiquitous.