Mutual Matters

Patients Recording Interactions with Their Physicians

Posted by Bill Kanich, MD on Dec 8, 2016 12:15:00 PM


If you don’t have something nice to say…

In 2013, a Virginia man prepared for his colonoscopy by pressing record on his phone to capture the post-op instructions from his doctor.

After the procedure, he started to listen to the recording and found that he recorded the entire examination. He also discovered that the surgical team had mocked and insulted him as soon as he drifted off. 

A Washington Post article1 noted the conversation that occurred. In the recording, the anesthesiologist told the sedated patient “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.” When a medical assistant noted the man had a rash, the anesthesiologist warned her not to touch it, saying she might get “some syphilis on your arm or something,” then added, “It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right.”

In addition, the doctors involved discussed avoiding the man after the colonoscopy, instructing an assistant to lie to him, and then placed a false diagnosis on his chart. At the trial, the jury awarded the patient with a payment total of $500,000;  $100,000 for defamation ($50,000 each for the comments about the man having syphilis and tuberculosis), and $200,000 for medical malpractice, as well as the $200,000 in punitive damages.

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