Last month in this space, I wrote about “Things doctors should not do—like attacking their nurses” and included this story among others:
“A surgeon at a Long Island, New York hospital, angry because a nurse gave one of his patients a dose of medicine at the wrong time, allegedly took a drawstring from his sweatshirt and wrapped it around her neck. As reported by Outpatient Surgery, the complaint says the surgeon, while choking her, told her he should kill her for what she did. He was arrested and charged with strangulation and assault.”
I did not reveal the surgeon’s name in my post, but interested readers could have clicked on the link to the Outpatient Surgery article about him. After an investigation, the surgeon was cleared of all charges because surveillance video and witnesses did not substantiate the nurse’s accusation.
When I learned of this, I inserted an update into the post, but the positive ending to the situation needs to have the same amount of exposure as the original negative story.
As you might guess, the arrest received widespread coverage by various media outlets. Reporting it was legitimate news, but so was the dropping of charges.
Outpatient Surgery posted a brief notice that the charges had been dropped but in a less prominent area of its website than the first story.
Three well-known websites had published lengthy articles about the alleged assault but made no mention of the surgeon’s later exoneration. That a reputable newspaper like the Chicago Tribune failed to do so surprised me but the Daily Mail and the New York Post? Not so much.
The surgeon, whose privileges had been suspended, was reinstated by the hospital and is considering whether to sue the nurse. She has not been charged with filing a false report, and there is no information about whether the hospital has disciplined her.
Skeptical Scalpel is a retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last 8 years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog has had more than 3,000,000 page views, and he has over 18,000 followers on Twitter.