Thursday, June 25, 2015

Northern Virginia... where doctors can be assholes...

Actually, doctors anywhere can be assholes.  It's just that in northern Virginia, two doctors were caught being assholes while tending to a patient under sedation who was also recording them on a smart phone.  Having lived in northern Virginia for a few years, it kind of doesn't surprise me that this incident occurred there, although I'm sure it could have happened anywhere.

Back in April 2013, a Vienna, Virginia man was at a same day surgery center having a colonoscopy done.  He was concerned about post op instructions, so he used his phone to record the procedure.  Now, in the Washington Post article I linked to, it says the man only wanted to get instructions and was surprised he got the whole procedure.  I find that part of the story a little strange.  Wouldn't you know you were going to be recording everything if you pressed the record button before you went under?  But anyway, the end result is that the guy ended up recording two doctors, Tiffany M. Ingham, an anesthesiologist, and Solomon Shah, a gastroenterologist, making very rude and inappropriate comments about him.

I'm not going to rehash exactly what was said because you can read any of the number of articles already posted about that.  By clicking the video above, you can even listen to an abridged version of the recorded nasty comments that convinced a jury to award the patient $500,000.  I just want to comment that what these two doctors did, while perhaps understandable to a small degree, could have a chilling effect on the development of trust between doctors and patients.

If you read this blog regularly, you may already know that I never visit doctors unless I am about to croak.  I have serious trust issues with them, mainly because a military doctor I saw in the 90s traumatized me.  I understand that I should see doctors.  I know intellectually that they could prolong or save my life.  I just have a really hard time putting myself in a doctor's care.  This case does absolutely nothing to make me want to trust healthcare providers.

Imagine how this man must have felt when, as he was coming out of his anesthesia induced stupor, he heard a recording of his doctors viciously trashing him as they perform a very intimate procedure on him.  This man was in a state of extreme vulnerability, yet his doctors were callously making comments about his penis and wondering if he was gay because of where he went to college (an excellent Virginia school, by the way).

I don't know what this guy is like in person.  Maybe he is annoying.  Maybe he does ask more of his medical care providers than they think is warranted.  It's natural to want to mock people who get on your nerves.  I do it myself.  However, there is a time and a place for mocking others.  If you are a healthcare professional and people are trusting and paying you to take care of them, you need to be especially mindful of your behavior.  

What I think is especially sad is that these two doctors have presumably spent many years preparing for their professions.   I believe Dr. Ingham has been a military doctor, which means she may not have had a shit ton of school loans to repay.  Still, when you think of the blood, sweat, tears, and expense that goes into becoming a physician, it's amazing that she would risk ruining her career over trashing a sedated man.

How many people who have read yesterday's news are now going to be willing to let these two doctors take care of them?  Moreover, how many people are now going to think twice about trusting their doctors or avoid seeing them altogether?  Maybe a lot of people won't notice or care that these physicians are in the news... but there will definitely be some who will.  I bet many doctors will also forbid patients to have their phones with them while they are sedated.

Anyway, I'm glad the plaintiff has prevailed in this case.  I am sure it will be appealed, though I think the plaintiff is entitled to something for the way he has been treated.  And I think, in the end, these two doctors will find that their loose lips will sink their careers.  


  1. i;m glad the guy was awarded at least what he was. i certainly hope disciplinary action was taken against those ttwo doctors. While it reeks of "bif brother," I think we would all do our jobs more professionally as well as protect ourselves in the event of false accusations if more thingss were recorded. i think basicaally everything in terms of job performance that can be recorded should be. again, I know it has shades of 1984, but I think it would be for the good of everyone.

    1. That female doctor strikes me as being a massive bitch. There was no excuse for what she said. I know a guy who lives in northern VA and actually saw the other guy a couple of times. He said he didn't care for him.

  2. My dad occasionally goes to Walter Reed as well as some hospital in mclean and one in Arlington. I'll tell him to check them out if he can. i assume they're history already, though.

  3. Actually, I think the one hospital is in Falls Church, not McLean..

  4. I think they have both left. The anesthesiologist moved to Florida.


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