While a patient was under anesthesia, an anesthesiologist allegedly decorated a patient’s face with a fake mustache and fake teardrop under her eye. Then a nurse’s aide snapped a photo. Pretty funny, eh?


Well, the patient was a hospital employee who worked there for 13 years prior to having her face decorated against her will.

In his deposition, Dr. Yang, the anesthesiologist, said, “I thought she would think this is funny and she would appreciate it.”


The nurse’s aide supposedly showed the picture to the patient, Veronica Valdez. Allegations were made that the picture was emailed or posted online, but it’s unclear that ever happened.


So, what happened?


The anesthesiologist was suspended by his group for two weeks. But, he’s back at work.


The nurse’s aide was suspended for brief period and given additional training in privacy.


And, to no one’s surprise, Valdez’s is suing the hospital, the anesthesiologist and his medical group for violation of privacy, infliction of emotional distress and other allegations.


The hospital moved to dismiss the suit stating come of the allegations in Valdez’s lawsuit were “factually inaccurate, grossly exaggerated or fabricated.” In court filings, the hospital contends that Valdez is trying to “play litigation lottery” against a “deep-pocket defendant.”


The hospital conceded that this “breach of professionalism regrettably did occur” and those involved “demonstrated poor judgment.”


Such incidents are not isolated.


On December 11, 2007, a patient was put under anesthesia. While the Foley catheter was being placed, the chief resident noticed the words “Hot Rod” tattooed on the patient’s penis. Out came the camera. Photos were shown to a select few. And, news began to spread.


In healthcare, smart phone cameras need to be operated by people exercising judgment. There’s a long list of people who have learned the lesson. Good judgment comes from experience; a lot of comes from bad judgment.