A Vienna man receiving treatment in a Reston, Virginia medical suite has received $500,000 in damages after a jury sided with him in a defamation suit against the medical staff. The patient set his phone to record his doctor’s instructions after his colonoscopy and ended up recording his entire procedure, and was shocked to discover that his care team had spent almost the entirety of the operation insulting him as he was sedated.
The anesthesiologist and doctor present were recorded figuring out how to avoid the patient after surgery, with the anesthesiologist suggesting that they tell him he had already been instructed by the doctor when he asked for doctor’s orders. In addition to her insulting comments on her perception of the patient’s sexuality and suggesting that he had contagious diseases, the anesthesiologist recorded herself marking conditions on the patient’s chart that she knew he did not suffer from, falsifying his diagnosis.
Adding to unusual circumstances of this case is the fact that the care team’s conversation was considered to not be privileged, as such conversations typically are in medical procedures. The court found that because the conversation extended to non-medical issues, i.e. the patient’s personality and the care team’s efforts in avoiding him, doctor-patient confidentiality was not applicable. In addition, the status of Virginia as a “one party” consent state* in regards to recording conversation meant that even though the care team did not know they were being recorded, the recording itself was still admissible.
For the entire article, and a condensed video of some of the recording, follow the link to the Washington Post’s original story.
*States with single party consent only require one member of a conversation to consent to being recorded, not all parties. This is the law in thirty-eight states, the exceptions being California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington, though several (such as Hawaii) have special considerations for time and place.