A major trash-talking “FAIL”

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So you have a gastroenterologist, an anesthesiologist and a medical assistant….

Sounds like the beginning of a tawdry joke for the medically inclined, doesn’t it? Right—we wish that were the case.

Instead, what you have is a trio of medical professionals who failed to uphold the ultimate caregiving commandment:

Respect thy patient. 

According to a recent article by The Washington Post, a surgical team in Virginia has found themselves in hot water after a patient accidentally recorded a conversation taking place between the three medical professionals while he was anesthetized. Yes, seriously. Needless to say, the comments were less than flattering. Here are some snippets:

  • “After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op, I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit.” (Said the anesthesiologist to the patient.)
  • “Some syphilis on your arm or something.” Followed by “It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right.” (Said in reference to a rash on the patient’s arm.)
  • “Well, why are you looking, then, retard?” (Again, said the anesthesiologist, when the patient mentioned a fear of needles.)

You get the point, and you can also find the full recording here. This is not good behavior for a team of ultra-chatty docs and nurses with whom a man entrusted his life. Who was vulnerable. Who was unable to defend himself.

Until now, that is.

Now, his last-laugh response will cost the anesthesiologist’s employers anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 in punitive damages. Think: defamation, malpractice—the whole shebang.

Interestingly enough, we recently published an article that discusses whether or not dark, sometimes crass “gallows” humor has a place in nursing. A lot of thought-provoking, but also opposing points were made by our readers. That said, an argument can be made that this now-silent anesthesiologist and her merry band of colleagues were not only needlessly cruel, but foolish enough to get caught (nay—recorded), thus deeming this conversation heard round the world as the true exception to the rule. Or, at the very least, it serves as an unpleasant reminder that we must tread lightly with our words.

What do you think? Is the punishment fitting? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. 

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