A Virginia man sued for emotional distress after several doctors were recorded making fun of him while they performed his colonoscopy. In June 2015 he was awarded $500,000 in damages.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Fairfax County Court in April 2014, alleges the doctors were recorded making fun of the patient as soon as he was sedated. The man had recorded post-op instructions on his phone just prior to the surgery, but forgot to turn it off which resulted in the entire procedure being recorded.
In a complaint against Safe Sedation LLC and Safe Sedation Management, the plaintiff – referred to as “D.B.” – claims the doctors joked about inserting a gun into his rectum, and suggested he may have syphilis. “…plaintiff was verbally brutalized and defamed by the very doctors to whom he entrusted his life while under anesthesia,” the complaint states.
It was further alleged that the doctor who gave pre-op instructions spoke directly to the unconscious man during the procedure, stating, “…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.”
Additional alleged complaints include:
- One doctor referring to the man as a “big wimp.”
- The doctors discussed ways to avoid the patient after he woke up.
- A discussion that the man may be gay for attending Mary Washington College.
- A medical assistant touched the plaintiff’s genitals during the procedure, with doctors joking the man may have syphilis or tuberculosis.
The man sued for $1 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
In June 2015, the man was awarded $500,000 in damages by a Fairfax County jury in a suit against the anesthesiology, Tiffany M. Ingham, and her practice.
The amount was broken down into $100,000 in defamation ($50,000 for two comments about syphilis and tuberculosis), $200,000 for medical malpractice, and $200,000 in punitive damages.
Below are audio clips of the procedure, provided by the Washington Post. This was entered as evidence in the case.
Ingham can be heard stating that she was going to mark “hemorrhoids” on the man’s chart, “even though we don’t see them and probably won’t.”
Juror Farid Khairzada told the media that the damages were awarded “…to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
Attorneys for the doctors unsuccessfully argued that the recording of the procedure was illegal, but it was pointed out by the plaintiff’s attorneys that Virginia’s allows for “one-party consent,” or the recording of a conversation in which only one gives consent.
The gastroenterologist who performed the procedure was dismissed from the suit on the first day of the trial, despite making insulting remarks and not preventing Ingham from falsely adding hemorrhoids to the patient’s chart.
Updated June 24, 2015
Originally published April 23, 2014