RESTON, Va. (AP) — From the moment he went under, the wisecracks began.
A Virginia man was awarded $500,000 in court after being mocked about his masculinity and insulted by an anesthesiologist during a colonoscopy in 2013.
The Washington Post reports the Fairfax County jury ordered 42-year-old Tiffany Ingham and her practice to pay the man after a three-day trial last week.
Officials say the man, who wanted to remain anonymous, recorded the incident in April 2013 while being prepped for the procedure to capture the doctor’s post-operation instructions.
But when he listened to the recording on his way home, he discovered that he had recorded the entire examination and that the doctor and the rest of the surgical team had insulted and mocked him once he fell asleep.
Ingham was recorded saying to the sedated patient that “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.” When a medical assistant noted the man had a rash, the anesthesiologist warned her not to touch it, saying she might get “some syphilis on your arm or something,” then added, “It’s probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right.”
The lawsuit states the recording captured Ingham mocking the amount of anesthetic needed to sedate the man and a gastroenterologist, 48-year-old Soloman Shah, commented that another doctor they both knew “would eat him for lunch.” Shah, who performed the colonoscopy, was dismissed from the case. The procedure took place at a large medical suite in Reston, Virginia.
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.
Ingham’s lawyer, D. Lee Rutland, argued unsuccessfully to have the recording tossed out of court on the theory that it was improperly recorded. In Virginia, a person can record a conversation to which they are a party without the consent of the other parties, but Ingham’s lawyer argued that the patient was unconscious and not a party to the conversation at all.
A judge rejected that argument after the patient’s lawyer pointed out that Ingham directed some of her mockery directly at the patient while he was unconscious.
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, Maryland, 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.
Rutland did not return a call and email seeking comment Wednesday.