The last laugh in medical malpractice

In Arizona, medical malpractice cases often fall into one of several categories, including hospital errors, nursing errors, surgical errors and birth injuries. There are, of course, also wrongful death claims brought in worst-case instances of doctor negligence.

It’s extremely rare to see a doctor penalized for medical malpractice by a jury for trash-talking, insulting and mocking a patient. However, that is just what happened recently in the case of a Virginia anesthesiologist who ridiculed and defamed a man who was having a colonoscopy performed. The jury awarded the man $500,000 for the doctor’s insulting stream of ridicule, including $200,000 in punitive damages for her former patient.

The man recorded the doctor’s statements on his cellphone back in 2013, while she was speaking after the procedure. “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,” jurors heard her say on the recording.

The anesthesiologist also told a medical assistant that the man might have syphilis or “probably tuberculosis in the penis.” According to a news report, she also mocked her patient for the amount of anesthetic he required, later writing a faked diagnosis of hemorrhoids on his medical chart.

She also ridiculed “the big wimp” for having attended a college that was at one time an all-women’s school, wondering out loud if he was gay, the lawsuit stated.

The jury awarded him $100,000 for defamation, $200,000 for medical malpractice and $200,000 in punitive damages, in an effort “to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” a juror said after the trial.

A rare case, to be sure, but it seems likely that many readers would agree that both doctor and patient got what they deserved. That is exactly what can happen when a harmed patient seeks out the help of an experienced Phoenix medical malpractice attorney who understands how to assess legal options and pursue the best course of action in order to maximize compensation.