Patient gets $500,000 for doctor’s teasing during anesthesia

A recent medical malpractice verdict showed how an unprofessional conversation between medical staff during a procedure can result in litigation.

When a patient sees a doctor or goes into the hospital for a medical procedure, he or she has the right to be treated with professionalism and respect. Chicago is known for its reputable medical facilities. However, there is always the chance that a medical professional may treat a patient dismissively or even disrespectfully. This carries the potential to damage a patient's trust in his or her doctors and can even become a lifelong issue, depending on the severity of the incident.

Unprofessional behavior may be harmful to patients

Each year, between 210,000 and 440,000 patients throughout the United States lose their lives as a result of preventable hospital mistakes, states ProPublica. Hospital errors have become the third leading cause of death in the country, after heart disease and cancer. Disrespectful or inhumane words by medical staff to patients may not seem like a physical health risk, but this behavior can cause serious ramifications if a patient/doctor relationship is damaged. This in turn can actually cause long-term health dangers if patients no longer feel comfortable visiting doctors because of a physician's professional misconduct.

A recent case resulted in a hospital lawsuit and subsequent verdict against a medical facility in Fairfax, Virginia. According to ABC News, a patient who'd had a routine colonoscopy procedure discovered that his anesthesiologist and other members of the medical staff had been making disparaging comments about him while he was sedated. He had accidentally let his smartphone continue voice recording during the procedure after recording his doctor's instructions. The anesthesiologist was recorded saying she wanted to punch the patient in the face, among other comments made at his expense. She also stated she was going to give him a false diagnosis. The jury awarded the man $500,000 - $100,000 for defamation, $200,000 for medical malpractice and $200,000 in punitive damages.

The rights of patients to ask questions and be informed

Patients have the right to be informed about any treatment or procedure without the fear of being put down or embarrassed. According to Remedy Health Media, these rights include discussing the following concerns with physicians:

  • Whether the surgery is the right choice or if there are nonsurgical methods or other procedures that would be more effective
  • Questions to help the patient decide on the best surgeon for this particular technique
  • In-depth information about the procedure
  • Which medical center is the best place for the surgery or treatment
  • Ways to prepare both emotionally and physically for the procedure
  • How to prevent complications from occurring during and after the procedure

The behavior of unprofessional or negligent medical staff may potentially affect a patient's physical and mental well-being after a procedure is performed. It is also not unreasonable to expect a physician to be upheld to a high level of professional conduct. According to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, numerous physicians and medical facilities have developed statements that emphasize respecting the privacy of patients and treating them like human beings worthy of dignity.

If you have been harmed by the misconduct of your doctor or medical staff, your rights may include compensation. This misconduct may include emotional harm resulting from how you were treated. An attorney with experience in medical malpractice cases can advise you of your rights.

Keywords: malpractice, medical, doctor, hospital, negligence