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California Doctor Sued for Playing Prank on Unconscious Patient

Published on 10/03/2013 -


A California doctor is facing a medical malpractice lawsuit for placing stickers on an unconscious patient’s face and taking pictures of her, according to a remarkable claim filed by the patient, 36-year-old Veronica Valdez.

The patient has filed the claim against her anesthesiologist, although the doctor argues that the patient had worked at the hospital for 13 years, and that he thought she would find the pictures amusing, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Patient Sues Doctor for Taking Pictures During Surgery

According to the patient’s lawsuit, Dr. Patrick Yang allegedly used stickers to give her a black mustache and tear drops under her left eye while she was undergoing finger surgery in 2011 at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Southern California.

While her face was covered in stickers, a nurse’s aide reportedly took a picture of Valdez while she was unconscious, according to the patient’s personal injury attorney.

Sources indicate that Yang admits he cut out and colored the stickers, and then stuck them on the patient’s face towards the end of the procedure, which reportedly lasted for about an hour.

In a court deposition, Dr. Yang said he “thought she would think this is funny and she would appreciate it.” In addition, Patricia Gomez, the nurse’s aide who took the patient’s photograph, said she never posted the picture online, nor did she send it to any third parties.

In response, however, other witnesses claimed that they had seen the picture of a sticker-covered Valdez on Facebook. But lawyers for the hospital say there is no evidence the picture was shown online.

Hospital Criticizes Doctor for Negligent Actions

Despite the debate over whether the picture was posted online, the fact remains that Valdez felt “violated” when she learned of the invasion of privacy, and was “in shock,” according to her lawsuit.

After she filed her claim, the state of California launched an investigation into the matter. To its credit, the hospital admitted that the incident was a “breach of professionalism” and said through an official statement that the doctor had shown “poor judgment.”

Still, the hospital plans to fight the action for breach of medical privacy, and it has not fired Yang. Sources say he was disciplined but remains employed at the hospital. The lawsuit is scheduled start trial in January.

Sources say Valdez is looking to recover personal injury damages from the doctor, the hospital, and his medical group.

Valdez has some ammunition, as well, as she reportedly had to leave her job, which entailed ordering medical supplies for the hospital, because she “ridiculed and humiliated,” according to her medical malpractice attorney.

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