Home >  News >  December, 2017

Lawsuit: Patient Suffered Emotional Distress Listening to Surgeon Talk While He Operated on Her

The doctor allegedly spooked the patient when he spoke about night sweats and blurred vision in Spanish as part of a language proficiency exam.

Published: December 11, 2017

DISTRACTED DOCTORING? The patient's lawyer said the doctor's cell phone use would have distracted him during surgery.

A woman has sued her surgeon for talking on his cell phone while he operated on her varicose veins, claiming the conversation she overheard caused her emotional distress because she had to go through the rest of the surgical procedure thinking that the doctor might not be able to see what he was doing.

Turns out the surgeon, Eric Fishman, MD, of the Westmed Medical Group in Purchase, N.Y., had what he thought was a perfectly good reason for talking on the phone during the September surgery. He told the patient, Mary Edwards, 70, that he was taking a Spanish proficiency exam because he needed to be certified in Spanish in order to communicate with his many Spanish-speaking patients, according to the lawsuit. Dr. Fishman allegedly also told his patient that her surgery was the only time he was able to take the proficiency test, says the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages.

But Ms. Edwards got spooked when she heard Dr. Fishman talking in both English and Spanish about such topics as diabetes, night sweats and blurred vision, which Dr. Fishman says was a part of his language exam, the suit says.

Ms. Edwards understands English and Spanish and says in the lawsuit that the phone conversation made her panic. Mitchell Baker, an attorney for Ms. Edwards, said Dr. Fishman started speaking on the phone about halfway through the 30-minute procedure.

"When you do an operation and the client is under the knife, you put everything aside," says Mr. Baker.

Dr. Fishman and his medical group did not respond to a request for comment.

Anna Merriman


Also in the News...

Music Is as Good as Sedative in Calming Nerves Before Surgery
Jury: Orthopedic Surgeon's Routine of Performing 14 Concurrent Surgeries a Day Negligent
Federal Court Dismisses More Than 5,000 Lawsuits Against 3M's Patient Warming System
Study Finds Sedation Method Doesn't Affect Adenoma Detection Rate
Negligence Suit: Reckless Intraoperative Neuromonitoring During Spinal Surgery Led to Deadly Catastrophic Hypoxic Brain Injury
Class Action: 600 Ex-employees Sue Laser Spine Institute for 2 Months of Pay and Benefits
Senator Creates Firestorm With Nurses Playing Cards Comment

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

advertiser banner

Other Articles That May Interest You

3 Sharp Ideas to Improve Sharps Safety

Here's how we responded to a worrisome uptick in needlesticks and cuts.

Safety

5 Ways You Can Prevent Drug Diversion

FDA Shocked by Spike in Malfunctioning Staplers

Devices that misfired or failed to fire have injured or killed thousands.