Caught on Tape: Doctor Sued Over Disparaging Comments During Surgery
A doctor practicing in Florida recently left her practice as an anesthesiologist after losing a court case in Virginia. The court case was about brutally disparaging comments she made during a surgery while performing a colonoscopy. Reportedly, the doctor said things like, “I want to punch you in the face,” and warned her colleges not to touch the patient’s arm for fear of getting syphilis. The comments about the patient were untrue, offensive, and disparaging.
The patient would never have known about the comments, but before going under he pressed record on his phone to capture any instructions from his doctor. When he later listened to the recording he was shocked, embarrassed, and suffered severe anxiety as a result. But what could he do? The procedure, medically, went fine. How would he recover for his emotional suffering and help prevent this from happening again? He decided to sue the doctor for malpractice and defamation, and won his case.
Florida Laws Protect Patients
While sad because of how the patient was treated, this case is interesting because the patient’s procedure had no other problems. So how could he recover for his damages? The patient sued the doctor for both malpractice and defamation of character.
A typical Florida malpractice claim has several elements to it. First, a patient has to suffer damages because of how he is treated under the doctor’s care. If those damages happened because the doctor failed to use reasonable care, then the patient has a case. Reasonable care is considered the kind of care that competent and professional doctor would give in similar circumstances. While all of these elements were met in this case, the monetary damages didn’t amount to what a drastic medical malpractice case normally comes to.
It is in this realm that most of the damages truly arose. Defamation claims involve several elements as well. To plead a successful claim a claimant must show that the defendant said something about the plaintiff that was not true, that it was published (communicated) to a third person, and that it caused damages. Just reading through the story shows that all of these elements were met; this is how the patient was able to recover from the doctor and help to ensure that it does not happen in the future.
Could This Happen in Florida?
What is further interesting about this story is that had it happened in Florida, the case may not have gone forward. The reason is that to admit a recording in Florida the person whose voice was recorded must consent to the recording.
If you are ever the victim of medical malpractice, contact us. At Alan Goldfarb, P.A. we focus our Miami practice on recovering for victims of medical malpractice, and will review your case and give you your legal options.