Ethel Easter secretly recorded her surgery at Houston's Lyndon B. Johnson hospital last year after her treatment by surgeons left her worried she wouldn't make it out. As she told the Washington Post, "I was fearful. I didn’t know if I was going to come out of the surgery, so I just wanted my family to know if something went on." What ended up being caught on tape wasn't malpractice, but what was recorded is very worrisome to anyone who has to go under the knife.
Things did not go well for Ethel Easter from the moment she walked into Lyndon B. Johnson hospital. She was complaining of excruciating abdominal pain and blood in her urine, and her stomach was covered in bruises. She was suffering from a hiatal hernia—a rip in the diaphragm that pushes the stomach up into the lung/heart area. It can cause heart attack-like symptoms and Ethel had suffered from dozens of such attacks in the 24 hours leading up to her visit.
The surgeon told her she could have an operation... in two months. As she told ABC News, when Easter got upset said she couldn't endure the pain for two months, the surgeon yelled back "Well, who do you think you are? You’re gonna wait like everybody else."
In the end, Easter did have to wait a month for the necessary surgery, and opted to stay at LBJ hospital despite hearing from her family physician that her surgeon had written "bad notes" in her file. Apparently, a surgeon's file on you can include "red flags" about your bad "attitude."
Indeed, the surgeon sure seemed to hold a grudge, because he loudly recounts his own version of the incident on tape, saying "She's a handful... she had some choice words for us in the clinic when we didn’t book her case in two weeks," and that she threatened to get a lawyer if no one treated her.
He then joked about how people shouldn't talk that way to the person who will be cutting you up. He also describes her as a "handful," calls her "Precious" (like the movie), and says he feels bad for her husband based on her "queen" attitude. The nurses join in, too, with one getting huge laughs for "do you see that belly button?" Most disturbing is this exchange the Post wrote down from the original audio:
After the doctors concurred that there had been many “teaching moments” that day, the anesthesiologist asked, “Do you want me to touch her?”
“I can touch her,” the surgeon is heard saying.
“That’s a Bill Cosby suggestion,” someone interjected. “Everybody’s got things on phones these days. Everybody’s got a camera.”
“Do you have photos?” the surgeon asked a couple times. “[indiscernible] thought about it, but I didn’t do it.”
Finally, despite telling her physicians of her penicillin allergy, Easter was given an antibiotic with known side effects for people with penicillin allergies, swelling her arm up several times and restricting her breathing. Although she has mulled a lawsuit, Easter says she mostly just wants an apology and for doctors and nurses to change the way they speak about patients. As for the hospital, they said they reviewed the tape and saw no need for action.