Secrets Your Surgeon Won’t Tell You

Team of Surgeons Operating.

Secrets Your Surgeon Won’t Tell You

This past May, a disturbing video went viral of a plastic surgeon from Georgia dancing and singing while standing over patients during surgery. Not only is the doctor holding a scalpel during the video, but blurred images clearly show multiple bodies of patients were already open and exposed to the elements, while even supporting medical staff joined in on the show in the background.

Poorly Behaved Medical Staff Exposed

Unfortunately, the dancing Georgia surgeon is not the only documented case of medical professionals participating in inappropriate behaviors during surgical procedures. Since the popularity of viral videos and smartphones have skyrocketed, patients have begun to capture appalling footage of surgeons and medical staff across the country that is causing Americans to become a little more anxious about entering an operating room:

  • In 2015, an anesthesiologist and two other supporting staff members in Virginia were caught brutally insulting a patient and admitting to falsifying medical records during a colonoscopy procedure. The patient turned on his phone recorder to capture post-operative instructions and got unexpected evidence to use in a lawsuit.
  • A woman from Port Chester in 2017 sued a doctor performing a varicose vein operation, claiming to hear him taking a Spanish proficiency test on his phone during her operation. The patient also reported hearing the surgeon talk about suffering from blurry vision while she was under anesthetic- he was completely unaware she could hear him!
  • In a Pennsylvania hospital last year, not one but ‘tons’ of hospital employees were caught taking photos of a patient’s genital injury on their personal cell phones while the patient was under anesthesia in the operating room.

These and many other reported cases of similar incidents are completely unacceptable. However, the more troubling question to ask is have these behaviors actually increased over the years, or have they been occurring under the radar all along? Chances are a little bit of both.

What Causes Inappropriate Behaviors

Surgeons have consistently been placed on a pedestal in the medical field for their brilliance and skill, but being a surgeon does not guarantee you practice professionally.  Several critical factors in the surgical field are causing the rates of ‘bad behaviors’ to increase during operations, while others are allowing longterm patterns of harmful behavior to continue:

  • Smartphones: The dawn of smartphones have significantly contributed to the increase of inappropriate behaviors in the medical field and are causing widespread concern. Medical professionals now have thousands of new distractions at their fingertips and the ability to snap instant photos on personal devices in violation of HIPAA laws. Luckily, smartphones have also helped patients who have become less trusting of doctors, using their phones to record evidence of medical malpractice and defamation during operations and hospital stays which they should not have to do.
  • Social Media: Even surgeons are not immune to seeking attention on social media. It’s unclear as to why any medical staff would post a photo or video during an operation, but the addiction to posting and live streaming seems to be trumping patient privacy and respect on multiple occasions.
  • Inexperienced Staff: It’s mandatory for attending surgeons to be present while residents are performing surgery- but ‘present’ does not necessarily mean scrubbed up and in the room! If the lead surgeon in the procedure is inexperienced, possibly even in the area of how to act appropriately with patients, there may not be an attending surgeon there to correct the bad behavior before it gets out of control.
  • Pushy Administrations: Surgeons make money for their institutions based on the number of surgeries they perform. Some hospitals push for unnecessary surgeries to create more revenue, overloading the schedules of surgeons and supporting staff as a result. Burnt out medical professionals may take out their frustration on their patients, causing an increase in offensive comments, poor judgment, and a tendency to dehumanize an individual on the table.

What To Ask Before Your Surgery

Going into surgery is a terrifying ordeal, particularly if you will be under heavy sedation. However, before jumping into any procedure, there are several precautionary steps you can take to gain confidence in your choice of medical professionals before you plan to enter the operating room:  

  • Research surgeons: Never go with a surgeon based on one recommendation, even if it’s from your primary care doctor. Research all applicable surgeons available for your procedure online for patient and staff reviews, or ask previous patients about their experiences. Also makes sure the surgeon is board certified and qualified to operate in the field you require.
  • Ask about experience: The surgeons may know they are the most qualified, but you don’t. Never be afraid to ask questions about your procedure or the surgeon’s background with performing this type of surgery. Asking a professional about their own experience and complication rating is just as important as researching it yourself.
  • Have surgery earlier in the week: Doctors and medical staff become scarce on the weekends, especially if it’s a holiday. Try to schedule your surgery at the beginning of the week so you are more likely to see your surgeon prior to discharge for any additional questions and concerns.
  • Get a second opinion: When it comes to surgery, thousands of people undergo surgical procedures every year that could be unnecessary. Get a second opinion about your condition and explore any non-surgical options that could just as easily help with your medical problem.
  • Research your anesthesiologist: Surgeons are the not only medical professionals you should be looking into before surgery. Anesthesiologists are just as vital and liable for the success of your procedure. Knowing how to properly sedate a patient is critical, and you will want to be aware of any malpractice suits an anesthesiologist may be involved in before you have your surgery.
  • Bring a family member to pre-op appointments: Nerves and stress can often blind patients to what is happening during pre-operative appointments and easily cause them to forget to ask the right questions. Bring a loved one to your appointment for a second pair of ears and let them know what concerns you have beforehand in case you forget to mention them.

All NYC Patients Deserve Respect

Patients entering surgery are at their utmost vulnerable state. There is no excuse for disrespectful and hurtful behaviors during surgery, especially by the medical professionals hired to help. If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic experience or medical consequence due to the inappropriate behaviors of medical staff during surgery, Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein is here to help. Our knowledgeable team will fight for justice in your medical malpractice case to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for damages suffered. 

Contact us using our convenient online form or feel free to phone us in New York at 212-227-1212, or in Huntington/Long Island at 631-864-2429.