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Surgeon Sued For Talking On Phone During Surgery

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A woman from New York is suing a surgeon after he allegedly held a phone conversation while conducting an operation on her. As a result of the overheard conversations, in one of which he was heard stating that he had blurred vision, the patient experienced emotional distress and panic.

Smartphone Lawsuit

A 70-year-old woman from New York filed a lawsuit against her surgeon after a strange set of events, which evidently caused her emotional distress. It all began when Mary Edwards developed a varicose vein in one leg and consulted her regular physician who referred her to the surgeon Dr. Eric Fishman, a licensed physician specializing in vascular surgery.

According to the lawsuit, Edwards was administered with a local anesthesia and was conscious during the duration of the first operation wherein Dr. Fishman openly conversed with another individual in the operating room about another patient's condition. During the second operation in September, Dr. Fishman allegedly held several conversations using his own personal phone, which was not sanitized before brought into the operating room.

During the said conversations, Dr. Fishman spoke in both English and Spanish, and mentioned having diabetes, experiencing night sweats, and having blurred vision among other topics. As a result, Edwards experienced panic and distress.

After the procedure, Dr. Fishman explained to Edwards that he was actually completing a Spanish language proficiency exam as he had many Spanish speaking patients, and that the time of Edwards' operation was the only time he had to complete the examination.

After meeting with Dr. Fishman and several Westmed Medical Group officials, they concluded that the actions were inappropriate and not respectful to the patient. As a result, Edwards has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Fishman and Westmed, Dr. Fishman's employer.

Phones In The Operating Room

According to a statement by the American College of Surgeons on distractions in the operating room, they state that the use of smartphones in the room by the surgeon or other members of the operating team may pose as a distraction to patient care. What's more, members of the operating team must only engage in emergency and urgent outside calls, and that personal communication during an operation must be minimized and kept brief.

As much as possible, mobile phones must be placed on silent mode and phone calls must be forwarded to the OR desk or directed to voice mail. It is also mentioned in the statement that mobile phones or any accessories must not compromise the sterile state of the operating room.

Dr. Fishman has since admitted to his mistake, stating that he could neither defend nor excuse his behavior during the said operation. What's more, he has also stated that he was glad that Edwards made a complaint to Westmed about what he did.

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