Anesthesiologist Has To Pay $500,000

Anesthesiologist Sued For $500,000 And Fired From Job: The Role Technology Played [Opinion]

An anesthesiologist working in Virginia was successfully sued for $500,000 and let go from her job. Tiffany M. Ingham, 42, owes her current job and financial woes to a couple of crucial factors. The first factor is that the patient who sued her, a man only known as “D.B”, did so only because he happened to record rude and hurtful commentary about him.

When D.B. got home and played the recording of his surgery, he discovered that Ingham could hardly wait for him to go under before she began to verbally abuse him. Had he never recorded the matter, he wouldn’t be $500,000 richer. Just the same, the anesthesiologist would most certainly still be employed. She may also have continued to mock unconscious patients with little to no fear of consequences.

This situation is an example of the growing influence that technology has on the legal and social outcomes of controversial circumstances. In the past, it was simply a matter of opinion or an unprovable accusation. Today, the accusations are backed up by photographs and videos, screen grabs, or audio recordings. Want to hold someone responsible for undesirable or hurtful behavior? Yes, there is, indeed, an app for that.

And that brings us to the second factor that cost this anesthesiologist: The inability to self-censor.

Self-censorship is a behavior best practiced by the shrewdest of politicians. These people (especially during election campaigns) understand better than anyone that they are always one sound bite or photograph away from a ruined career. One might say that political scandals are passé. Scandals involving everyday people go viral almost daily.

You can go from being a faceless college student to “a racist kid in a YouTube video.” A veterinarian lost her job over the alleged killing of a housecat — the controversy started with a Facebook post. Technology is bringing the everyday person in a realm of functioning once exclusively reserved for celebrities and politicians. You must live your life as if every moment might be captured on film, and only the ugliest moments make the headlines.

Well, that’s the most cynical way of viewing the consequences that tech can have on people like the hapless anesthesiologist. There could be an upside to knowing anything you say or do (particularly when truly despicable) can be used against you — You’ll dare to be a decent person.

Many people aspire to be decent, kind, compassionate human beings because that’s the ideal we’re meant to strive toward. If there are social, legal, and financial ramifications for being a terrible, unprofessional person, that may help some people reconsider the value of being a heel in today’s society.

I leave you with this question to ponder: Did the smartphone recording cost the anesthesiologist her job and get her sued for $500,000, or was it her behavior? Share your answer below!

[Image Credit: Ian Waldie / Getty Images]