Patient Sues Hospital and Physician Because of Surgical Room Prank
In the late, great state of mind-bend called Los Angeles a woman is suing her doctor and a hospital. It seems that her surgical team thought it would be pretty funny to glue a fake moustache and sticky tears to her face – then take pictures – all as she lay unconscious during surgery as part of a prank.
We could make this stuff up, but with 2,500 lab coat loony tunes each and every year, why would we have to?
Mr. Andrew Ryan is the lawyer patient Veronica Valdez hired last year after the incident. He addressed the news media by saying that Ms. Valdez did not find it even slightly funny that a physician would do such a thing, let alone allow staff members to snap pictures of her face as she lay helpless.
Ms. Valdez is 36 and was herself employed by the hospital – Torrance Memorial Medical Center – since 2001.
“There’s no such thing as a joke in the operating room. For them to play a joke is cruel,” attorney Ryan said. “I have never seen anything like this. It’s an incredible breach of privacy, of HIPAA, of common decency, of the Hippocratic Oath.”
Valdez, a surgical supply purchaser for Torrance Memorial, stated she was horrified when she learned that her coworkers had attached a fake moustache above her lip and yellow tear drops below her left eye, and then actually allowed a nurse to take pictures. The pictures were then sent out over the internet – a total embarrassment for her and her family.
The behavior of Doctor Patrick Yang, the anesthesiologist responsible for the event during the October 2011 surgery, prompted an investigation by the California State Medical Board, which reprimanded the hospital. The Board called the prank a “breach of professionalism” but went no further. Of course, you have to look at it from the State Board’s point of view. If they allow drug dealers; kidnappers, scammers and rapists to keep THEIR licenses to practice – what’s a little O.R. prank among friends?
In his deposition, Yang MD admitted to cutting up sticky medication labels with scissors and attaching tear drops and a moustache to the sleeping patient’s face.
“I think she would get a laugh out of it,” he said. “She would appreciate it, thought that was funny.”
Yang and the Torrance Anesthesia Medical Group were suspended by the hospital for two weeks.
Ms. Valdez’ lawsuit is pending.
Here’s another view of this case:
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