Typical malpractice cases usually involve a doctor or medical staff making a mistake. Whether it be the act of prescribing the wrong medication or misdiagnosing an illness, malpractice cases oftentimes involve a physical act of negligence. But what happens when a medical professional mistreats a patient, not by their actions, but by their words? An anesthesiologist is learning the hard way after being sued for trash talking a patient in Virginia while under sedation.
The patient, who wishes to maintain his anonymity, had planned to record the instructions his doctor would give him after his colonoscopy, so he opened the recording application on his smartphone. Driving home after the procedure had been performed, he decided to listen to the recording to revisit his doctor's orders. What he heard through his phone's speakers astonished him. It was the voice of anesthesiologist, Tiffany Ingham, and other members of the surgical staff mocking and insulting him as soon as he drifted to sleep on the anesthetic.
“After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op, I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a bit,” Ingham was recorded saying to the knocked out patient.
It turns out, the patient had recorded the whole procedure on accident. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of the nasty comments made by Ingham and her coworkers.
When a medical assistant pointed out that the man had a rash on his genitals, the anesthesiologist told her not to touch it, warning her that she might get “some syphilis on your arm or something,” adding, “It's probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you'll be alright.” The doctor's joked about their plans to avoid the man once he wakes up, while Ingham proceeded to write a false diagnosis of “hemorrhoids” on the man's medical chart. Ingham and the surgical team also made fun of the man's choice in college, Mary Washington College, claiming it was once an all women's school and voiced aloud concerns of whether the patient was gay or not, according to the recording.
After deeming the patient a “big wimp,” Ingham proclaimed, “people are into their medical problems. They need to have medical problems.”
The patient sued Ingham, another doctor in the room and their practices for defamation and medical malpractice. The other doctor was dismissed from the case. After the three-day trial, the jury concluded that he be awarded $500,000 - $100,000 for defamation, $50,000 for each comment about the man having syphilis and tuberculosis, $200,000 for medical malpractice, as well as $200,000 in punitive damages. The defendant didn't have much of a case due to everything being on tape. Luckily for the patient, Virginia is a “one-party consent” state, which means that only one person's consent is necessary to tape a conversation.
To listen to the recording, click here.
If you have been harmed as a result of the negligence of a medical professional or organization, you may be entitled to compensation. Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian are dedicated to getting you the best results possible. Call their office at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.