A Virginia man was awarded $500,000 in a defamation and medical malpractice suit after he caught his anesthesiologist openly insulting him and mocking his penis while he was knocked out for a colonoscopy, the Washington Post reports. The patient had set his phone to record so he wouldn’t miss the doctor’s post-op instructions, but ended up taping medical staff joking that a rash on his dick was “probably tuberculosis in the penis” or “penis ebola.”
In the audio recording, obtained by the Post, anesthesiologist Tiffany Ingham jokes about the rash and insults what she perceived as the man’s annoying lack of manliness: “After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op,” she says, “I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit.” (Later, she makes fun of him for attending Mary Washington College, joking that he must be gay. Or maybe not, because she’s known tougher gay men.)
She also belittled him for being afraid of IV needles, quipping, “Well, why are you looking, then, retard?”
The gastroenterologist who did the procedure, Dr. Solomon Shah, can also be heard joking on the recording—”as long as it’s not ebola, you’re okay”—but the Post reports he was dismissed from the case.
The medical malpractice charge, which accounts for $200,000 of the half-million award, came into play when Ingham said, “I’m going to mark ‘hemorrhoids’ even though we don’t see them and probably won’t,” and then actually did it. The patient’s lawyers successfully argued it was a falsification of medical records.
The Post also describes Shah and Ingham making plans to lie to the patient after he woke up:
Shah reportedly told an assistant to convince the man that he had spoken with Shah and “you just don’t remember it.” Ingham suggested Shah receive an urgent “fake page” and said, “I’ve done the fake page before,” the complaint states. “Round and round we go. Wheel of annoying patients we go. Where it’ll land, nobody knows,” Ingham reportedly said.
They didn’t know his phone was still in his pants, sitting under the operating table during the entire procedure, recording everything. And because Virginia is a one-party consent state, the recording was admissible in court.
“There was not much defense, because everything was on tape,” a juror told the Post.