Medical malpractice can sometimes be hard to catch. Unless a patient suffers serious and immediate consequences from the malpractice he or she may not know for days, weeks, or even years that he or she has been a victim. However, for some inpatient procedures at least, there is a way to catch healthcare provider errors almost immediately. You can audio or video record your procedure. That is what one Virginia man did, and as a result he caught his healthcare providers’ bad behavior on tape.
Man Recorded His Own Colonoscopy
The Washington Post reported on a man who recorded his own colonoscopy and as a result caught his healthcare providers’ misconduct on tape. The man underwent the procedure in a medical suite in Virginia. Before the colonoscopy began the man pressed “record” on his smart phone so he would be sure to get any directions his doctor gave him about what to do after the procedure. On his way home he pressed play to listen to what had recorded. He realized that he had accidentally recorded the whole procedure, and that the surgical team had begun to make fun of and insult him as soon as the anesthesia put him to sleep. But the mocking was not the worst of it. He also heard the doctors plotting to avoid him after the procedure, the doctors telling an assistant to lie to him, and that the doctors put a false diagnosis in his medical chart. Outraged, the man sued the anesthesiologist for both medical malpractice and defamation, and a jury ultimately awarded him half a million dollars. The award broke down into $100,000 for defamation, $200,000 for medical malpractice, and $200,000 in punitive damages.
Important Note About Eavesdropping Laws
Before recording your own medical procedure it is important to consider your state’s eavesdropping laws. What happened in the case of this Virginia man was legal because Virginia is a “one-party consent” state. That means that only one person on a recording needs to consent to the recording for it to be legal. Illinois law, on the other hand, generally requires that all parties to a private conversation that is being recorded give consent. It is unclear whether these conversations would be considered private. On one hand, they were held in a private business outside the hearing of others. On the other hand they were being held in front of a patient during a medical procedure. If the procedure were to take place in a teaching hospital where there was an entire audience of medical students or residents watching, that provides an additional issue to consider regarding privacy. Of course, one way to get around the eavesdropping statute is to simply ask your doctor for permission to audio record the procedure. While they may have reasonable objections if your procedure is occurring in a sterile environment, those objections seem less likely if it a procedure that takes place in a doctor’s office.
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