An interesting case of physician defamation of a patient has made national headlines over the last few days. In the following video, you can listen to a disturbing conversation between Virginia physician anesthesiologist Tiffany Ingham, a gastroenterologist, and a medical assistant during a routine colonoscopy. (full story)
Watch the video here: Anesthesiologist trashes sedated patient
Reading through public commentary on this event makes it clear that people outside of healthcare have yet another reason to hate doctors and to label us as self-interested bigots. In reality, I’m honestly disgusted by Dr. Ingham’s comments and surprised someone in this field could even generate such hateful remarks. It’s a horrible misrepresentation of what most of us stand for – upholding the integrity and safety of patients at such vulnerable points in their lives.
In no way am I condoning Dr. Ingham’s actions, but people in healthcare know the one-way road we must often accept. We’re allowed to be chastised by patients (racist/sexist remarks, unrealistic expectations, etc.) but cannot defend ourselves lest be viewed as an uncaring physician. It’s part of the job, and gives us no right to berate our more “difficult” patients regardless of whether they’re awake, sedated, or unconscious.
Hopefully this serves as a lesson to other physicians. The stakes in healthcare are incredibly high. One can throw away 10+ years of training (and thousands of dollars of debt) with a single thoughtless action.