Jury awards patient $500K after anesthesiologist mocked him during surgery

How would you feel if you went in for a medical treatment, were placed under anesthesia, and while you were under, the doctors inside the room were making fun of you?

It happened to a Virginia man who underwent a colonoscopy in April 2013. He recorded the comments made about him during the procedure. He then sued and a jury awarded him $500,000 after a trial last week.

The patient's phone caught it all when fell asleep. He hit the record button before the colonoscopy.

According to the Washington Post, the recording captured this comment from 42-year-old Tiffany Ingham, the anesthesiologist, about five minutes into sedation: "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."

But it gets worse. When a rash is discovered on the patient, the anesthesiologist is recorded warning it may be syphilis and she followed by saying, "It's probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you'll be all right."

The gastroenterologist, 48-year-old Soloman Shah, followed up by saying, "As long as it's not Ebola, you're okay."

Dr. Arthur Caplan, the director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University, spoke to us about the insults made in this case.

"This is a no-brainer -- it is unacceptable, unethical," he said. "It's almost to the point of disgusting what the doctors did. I've never heard of anything so bad in terms of putting down a patient."

Dr. Caplan pointed out he does not think this happens often. He said people may comment about someone's weight or if they haven't showered, but he called the comments mean.

The company that represented the anesthesiologist said they are not responding to any media requests.

The Washington Post reports Shah, who was performing the procedure, was dismissed from the case on the first day.

We checked with the Virginia Board of Medicine to see if any action is being taken against the medical professionals that were in the room, but nothing so far.

The jury awarded the man $100,000 for defamation - $50,000 each for the comments about the man having syphilis and tuberculosis - and $200,000 for medical malpractice, as well as the $200,000 in punitive damages.

One of the jurors, Farid Khairzada, said that there was not much defense, because everything was on tape.

"We finally came to a conclusion," Khairzada said, "that we have to give him something, just to make sure that this doesn't happen again."

The newspaper reported that Ingham had worked out of the Aisthesis anesthesia practice in Bethesda, Md., which the jury ruled should pay $50,000 of the $200,000 in punitive damages. Officials there did not return a call seeking comment. Ingham no longer works there, an Aisthesis employee said.

Information used from The Associated Press in this report.

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