Second Doctor Appears in a Public Venue From the Operating Room
Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
In what is starting to be a trend amongst plastic surgeons, a second doctor appeared in a public venue via Zoom from the operating room. This time the incident took place twice in Maryland, involving the same plastic surgeon, who was also a state legislator.
Earlier this month, The Federalist Pages reported on a plastic surgeon in California who appeared in traffic court to respond to his traffic ticket violation while in the operating room via Zoom. On that occasion, the surgeon's appearance was particularly striking since he raised his blood-covered, gloved hand as he was being sworn in. The judge terminated the hearing upon realizing the situation under which the surgeon was participating.
This latest case involves Dr. Terri Hill, a plastic surgeon and member of the Maryland House of Delegates, who Zoomed into a legislative committee meeting on two separate occasions. Her actions triggered a complaint from Dr. Alan L. Robin a retired ophthalmologist and Executive Vice President of the American Glaucoma Society who stated he was "outraged and appalled" by Dr. Hill's conduct.
Although the appearance may look outrageous at first glance, the issue is not as clear cut as it might seem at first blush, as explained previously by this outlet. In the California case, the surgeon was scrubbed in with his fellow, who was also a licensed surgeon. When he stepped away from the operating room table, he left the patient in his fellow's capable hands. From a medical regulatory standpoint, it would be difficult to see how the plastic surgeon's Board would punish him without being forced to punish all other attending surgeons who commonly and routinely leave their patients' care in the hands of their fellows or residents. In fact, in the California case, the judge has much greater standing for reprimanding the physician due to his conduct before the judge than the Board has for breaching some medical ethics rule.
Dr. Hill's case is different in that there is no information regarding the other personnel in the room. Whether or not there was a fellow, resident, or appropriately trained personnel is lacking in the information uncovered by The Federalist Pages. Additionally, being that Dr. Hill is a legislator, the political motivations of the complainant, if any, must also be addressed. Once again, it may be more likely that the doctor erred more in her duties to the legislature than she did to her patient depending on the assets she had available at the time.
Regardless, there is one thing that is becoming recurrently clear amidst the trickle of cases that are materializing involving Zoom habits. Appearing before a public meeting when one is in the operating room is a stupid idea. Whether one, as a surgeon, has all bases covered and there is absolutely no negative consequence to the patient is completely irrelevant.
Take my advice: Just say no to Zooming from the operating room!
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Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He served in the Florida House of Representatives. He is the author of numerous books including The Federalist Pages, The Case for Free Market Healthcare, and Coronalessons. He is available for appearances and book signings, and can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com.