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Lawsuit proves why unprofessional behavior shouldn’t be tolerated in hospital settings

Doctors have long been referred as champions and heroes within the healthcare field. It can certainly be argued that the men and women who struggle through years of schooling and residencies to eventually become full-fledged medical doctors are indeed among the brightest and most committed and determined of working professionals.

A jury recently awarded a man $500,000 in a medical malpractice lawsuit, despite the fact that the procedure he underwent went smoothly and he didn’t suffer any physical harm. What the man claims to have suffered, and a jury agreed, was severe emotional distress after he accidently audio recorded the entire procedure.

Upon undergoing a routine colonoscopy, the patient feared he’d be too groggy post-procedure to remember the doctor’s post-care instructions. He decided to record the post-procedure conversation on his cellphone which ended up with his clothes on the bottom of the table where the procedure was carried out.

Upon playing the recording back to listen to the doctor’s instructions, the man realized that he’d recorded the entire procedure and had been the subject of much ridicule and cruel remarks by the 42-year-old anesthesiologist. As a result of hearing the audio recording’s contents, the patient claimed to have suffered severe emotional distress, anxiety and trouble sleeping.

While the first of its kind, this case should serve as a wake-up call for doctors and their hospital employers. In a 2014 study of more than 850 doctors that appeared in JAMA, 71 percent reported witnessing “disruptive behavior in the previous month.” Additionally, 26 percent admitted to engaging in such behaviors at some point during their professional career.

Source: Fierce Healthcare, “Disruptive–and dangerous–behavior caught on tape: Time to finally stop misbehaving docs,” Ilene MacDonald, June 26, 2015

U.S. News & World Report, “Anesthesiologist Derides Subdued Patient, Loses Lawsuit,” Casey Leins, June 24, 2015

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