Damages were sought and awarded by a court in Virginia, USA against an anaesthesiologist and her practice after the attending doctors were caught on tape mocking a patient while he was sedated during the course of a procedure.

Amongst other abuses, the surgical team mocked and insulted the patient and the anaesthesiologist called the patient a “retard” and “stupid”. The abuse also included disclosure of private healthcare information of the patient to other attendant practitioners irrelevant to the specific procedure, and without the patient’s authorisation.

A similar result would follow in South Africa for impairment of dignity and defamation. Medical practitioners should act correctly and appropriately at all times, including when a patient is unconscious or sedated.