Anesthesia pay $500,000 for Defamation of Patient

You may have heard about the lawsuit where the patient was recording the conversation of the anesthesiologist and gastroenterologist, and staff, who were doing his colonoscopy.

During the colonoscopy, while the man was asleep, the following comments were made:

A medical assistant noted the man had a rash in his genital area and the anesthesiologist warned her not to touch it or she might be infected with “some syphilis on your arm or something.” The jury awarded the man $50,000 for that comment.

The anesthesiologist then said, “It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right.” The jury awarded another $50,000 for that comment.

The jury awarded $200,000 for punitive damages – for the entire incident.

The jury also awarded $200,000 for medical malpractice. This may have been for the discussion they had about lying to the patient and placing a false diagnosis on the chart.

It is clear that these physicians went over the line when talking about the patient. The comments were so outrageous that a jury awarded punitive damages as a result of the conversation. You have to wonder if these physicians are so distanced from what society would consider “normal” that they need to re-learn about developing relationships with patients.

My Take

Developing relationships with patients is a two way street. To be a good physician a doctor is more than a technician, and if you have developed a good relationship you don’t say such undignified and rude comments, nor do you allow others in the operatory to do so.

This is part of a larger problem developing in medicine. Instead of developing relationships with patients (I prefer the name customer-owner) physicians become bitter with their profession. The profession is about helping people- not doing as many cases as a person can. They become medical factories, moving through patients quickly, dispensing care like a vending machine- but with potential for a malignant comments.

If I were on the Medical Board of Virginia I would mandate the physicians undergo core concept training such as the kind NUKA system of care has developed.

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit

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