New Mexico patients may be shocked to learn that a Virginia patient who was made fun of by his anesthesiologist while he was in surgery was awarded about $500,000 on June 25. The man claimed that, in April 2013, he recorded the deprecating remarks on his cell phone when it was accidentally left on.
The lawsuit claimed that the anesthesiologist made remarks regarding the man’s genitalia, such as joking that he may have tuberculosis. Additionally, the anesthesiologist reportedly warned her assistant to not touch the patient’s genital rash as she might contract syphilis. The recording also caught the health care worker joking about firing a gun up the patient’s rectum, threatening to falsely add that the patient had hemorrhoids to his chart and making fun of the man’s education.
Initially, the anesthesiologist’s attorney argued that the recordings were illegal and could thus not be used in court. However, the state of Virginia is a one-consent state, meaning that the patient did not need the anesthesiologist’s consent to record. Ultimately, the jury awarded $50,000 for the joke made regarding the man’s genitalia and another $50,000 for the remarks regarding syphilis. The jury also awarded the man $200,000 in punitive damages and $200,000 for medical malpractice.
When patients are under the care of a health care professional, they should have the ability to feel safe safe and well cared for. If a doctor or health care professional makes a mistake or acts in an unprofessional manner that potentially puts the patient at risk, the patient may be eligible to file a medical negligence claim. Depending on the case, the patient may seek a variety of damages, which may include compensation for mental anguish.
Source: USA Today, “Anesthesiologist mocked sedated patient, pays big“, Kate Seamons, June 25, 2015