Behind Closed Doors: Craziness Ensues


The viral video of the traffic court doc reminded me of other OR oddities.

By now you’ve probably heard about the plastic surgeon who decided to make an appearance in traffic court on Zoom … during surgery! The YouTube clip of the hearing immediately went viral. Have you seen it? The incredulous judge immediately rescheduled the hearing when he confirmed the defendant was, indeed, conferencing in from the OR while a patient was on the table. I do wish the situation could’ve unfolded in Judge Judy’s courtroom. Could you imagine the Judy-isms she would have come up with during the hearing?

Dr. Defendant justified his actions by claiming he was merely overseeing a routine facelift that a fellow was finishing up. Still, you have to wonder what the heck he was thinking. I mean, while having the patient sign the consent, did he say, “You understand I may have to attend traffic court right here in the OR before your surgery is finished, correct?”

Of course, Dr. Defendant is hardly the first clinician to be accused of questionable behavior in the OR. In fact, he’s not even the only internet-famous Zoom doc right now. According to The Baltimore Sun, complaints have been filed with the Maryland Board of Physicians and the General Assembly’s ethics committee against a state lawmaker (who’s also a plastic surgeon) for Zooming into legislative sessions from the OR not once, but twice! What is it with these plastics docs and video conferencing?

Some other stories of physicians behaving badly:

  • An Atlanta-based dermatologist was sued for malpractice by patients and suspended by the Georgia Medical Board for her singing and dancing videos, which were filmed in the OR with patients in the room and included a spirited dance performance of the hip-hop song “Cut It.”
  • A group of residents in Michigan are under investigation after an Instagram account belonging to one of them revealed they would post pics of fibrous tissue and organs and attempt to guess their weights.
  • Back in the early aughts, a surgeon was indefinitely suspended for leaving an anesthetized patient on the table while he ran to the bank.

Of course, I’ve seen a few interesting things of my own over a 30-plus-year surgical career.

I once worked a case that should have set the Guinness World Record for most attitudes and opinions in one place. We packed the OR with an attending surgeon, four resident assistants, one med student, two observing surgeons, two circulators, two anesthesia providers, one scrub tech, four obstetric RNs, one general RN and one tech. Oh yeah, there must’ve been a patient in there somewhere.

During one case, the personal scrub tech of a neurosurgeon had a well-known history of wearing inappropriate attire during surgery and was written up for it several times. Murphy’s Law eventually kicked in and, during an already stressful case, one of her dangly earrings fell right into the patient’s open wound. I was aghast. Once I got my voice back, I asked the surgeon if he’d like two grams of Ancef. I probably should’ve asked if he wanted me to ask around for the names of scrub techs looking for work.

I don’t know why Dr. Defendant was so cavalier about attending traffic court from the OR, but I do know this: His soon-to-be-forgotten viral video doesn’t hold a candle to some of the strange things I’ve seen, heard and yes, even smelled, during my time in the OR. Hey, at least this job is never boring. OSM

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