When a Vienna, Virginia man pressed “record” on his smart phone to capture any post-procedure instructions from his colonoscopy, he never expected the shock he would get when he listened to the recording on his way home. It seems as if the man, who wished to remain anonymous, captured everything that was said during the entire procedure including how the surgical team was mocking him while he was sedated. A Washington Post article contains the audio recording of the procedure, which was admitted into evidence in the patient’s defamation and medical malpractice lawsuit against the two doctors and their practices. A Fairfax County jury awarded the man $500,000.
The anesthesiologist, Tiffany M. Ingram, 42, who worked for Aistheses anesthesiology in Bethesda, MD, was fired from the company, who issued an apology for her conduct, and Solomon Shah, 48, was later dismissed from the case.
The lawsuit was for defamation, and the man, whose initials are D.B. in the court documents, was awarded $100,000 for defamation at $50,000 for each comment about his having syphilis and tuberculosis, $200,000 for medical malpractice because of the false diagnosis and $200,000 in punitive damages.
The attorneys for the doctors argued that the recording was illegal, but the man’s attorney reminded them that Virginia is a “one-party consent” state, which means that only one person in the conversation must agree to the recording.
The count of malpractice was for Dr. Ingram having marked on D.B. chart that he had hemorrhoids when he did not.
Given the fact that all of the mockery, and insulting language was captured on tape, there was not much of a defense against the doctors’ actions. One of the jurors, Farid Khairzada, said that the jury decided “We have to give him something, just to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.’’
In his complaint, the man said that he was “verbally brutalized” and that he suffered from anxiety, embarrassment and loss of sleep for months following the procedure.
As of yet neither doctor has faced any disciplinary action from the Virginia Board of Medicine.