As it turns out, a colonoscopy procedure is not the best time to be tongue-in-cheek.
The Washington Post reports that last month a Fairfax County jury awarded a man half a million dollars in a lawsuit he had filed against the medical practice which performed a colonoscopy on him. The man found out the doctors and staff were mocking him during the procedure, and that they wrote down false information on his medical chart.
Talk about adding insult to injury.
The man, who is only identified in the court documents as “D.B.,” was awarded $500,000 in damages after a three-day trial. The anesthesiologist of the procedure and the practice itself will be required to pay the restitution.
In a case that just goes to show laughter is not always the best medicine, D.B. sued Dr. Tiffany M. Ingham and Aisthesis, an anesthesia practice in Bethesda, Maryland, when he found out Ingham and several members of the medical staff were mocking him during the procedure. Heavily sedated, D.B. was not aware they were talking about him. However, his smartphone, which happened to be under the operating table in his pants, recorded the entire procedure.
He listened to the recording after he become fully conscious, much to his chagrin.
He only intended to record what the doctors told him after the procedure regarding post-procedure instructions, since he would be too sedated to remember. As he came home, however, he found out he had recorded everything the doctors and staff were saying during the procedure.
The recording was mortifying. “After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op,” Dr. Ingham told the sedated patient, “I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit.”
Dr. Ingham warned a medical assistant not to touch a rash on D.B., telling her she might get “syphilis on your arm or something.” She added, “It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be alright.”
When D.B. said during his drug-induced stupor that he felt nauseated after watching a needle get inserted into his arm, Dr. Ingham responded by saying, “Well, why are you looking then, retard?”
The recording goes on like this more or less for the entire procedure. Among other things, the team remarked that they would avoid D.B. after the procedure and that the medical assistant should lie to him when he was fully conscious. Dr. Ingham also wrote down on his medical chart that he had hemorrhoids, which was not true.
D.B. originally sued the two doctors of the team, Ingham and gastroenterologist Dr. Solomon Shah, in addition to the medical practice for defamation, medical malpractice, and punitive damages. However, Dr. Shah was dropped from the case during the trial even though he made tongue-in-cheek comments himself and did not discourage his team’s behavior, including Dr. Ingham’s decision to falsify information on D.B.’s chart.
Dr. Ingham no longer works for Aisthesis. Virginia licensing records indicate that she currently practices in Florida. She could not be reached for comment.
In addition, she and Dr. Shah have not faced disciplinary action from the Virginia Board of Medicine as no public information can be found in print or on the organization’s website.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are deliver some of the largest legal payouts in the United States. In 2013, payments from medical malpractice trials and settlements totalled $3.6 billion.
It looks like at least one doctor has a classic case of foot-in-mouth disease.