Doubly so when we’re sedated and vulnerable, and incapable of defending ourselves.
A Virginia man undergoing a colonoscopy accidentally left his phone on. While he was under anesthesia, his phone recorded his doctor making crass and unprofessional comments about him.
Anesthesiologist Tiffany Ingham called the patient, identified only as “D.B.” in court papers, a “wuss,” “annoying,” and a “retard.” She also implied that he had syphilis or tuberculosis, turning legitimate medical conditions into terms of offense.
“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.”
You would expect a trained doctor to have a more sensitive, informed notion of mental disability, and to not use it as a slur or insult. You would also expect them to keep their regressive notions of masculinity out of the workplace.
The phone also recorded the doctors planning to avoid the man after his procedure, telling an assistant to lie to him, and falsifying the diagnosis on his chart (writing that he had hemorrhoids, when he did not). Ingham also warned a nurse against checking on a rash the patient had, joking that she might contract an infection. This demonstrates that Ingham and company avoided treating the patient’s symptoms for the sake of vicious ill-humor.
Some would argue that mere words do not warrant such outrage, but it is clear here that Ingham’s lack of respect for her patient extended to her actions.
The patient won $500,000 in defamation, medical malpractice and punitive damages.
The other doctors and nurses involved were not charged, even though they did not intervene, and even participated, in this deplorable behavior. None of the culpable parties could be reached for comment.