Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Dead Coming Back To Haunt

This Blog's posting of 4 March 2007 critiques Dr. Ahmed Rashed, a medical resident who removed a hand from a cadaver, and provided said hand to a stripper acquaintance, whose purpose in procuring the cadaver hand is not clear but certainly of zero or less social value. Said posting, in turn, mentions a Dr. Ivan Oransky, a medical resident who leaked to the New York Times the medical records of a particular patient with whom the resident had no doctor-patient relationship.

Well, the sawbones are at it again! A number of years ago, med student (now MD) Aaron Hartman posed giving the double thumbs-up sign next to his cadaver, and the photo was placed by resident physician Dr. Erica Katz on her Facebook page. Dr. Katz has, of course, been called onto the carpet, and has removed the offending and offensive photo. There is, of course, speculation as to whether the family of the deceased cadaver might seek redress in the courts, and the legal eagles and risk management wonks at the University Hospital at Stony Brook are, no doubt, cracking the law books in preparation for the legal defense they most likely will need to mount.

UHSB cannot do nothing to Dr. Katz because giving her a complete pass would make potential donors think twice before willing their bodies to UHSB. On the other hand, they also do not want to waste any more than necessary (oxymoron intentional) their investment (largely the taxpayers' money) in Dr. Katz.

If Dr. Rashed's misbehavior is worth a 10, then Dr. Oransky's rates about 8.5 or 9, and Dr. Katz's rates about a 2 or 3.

My wife, who is a physician, seems to think that Dr Katz will be slapped with a suspension for a week or two or three, provided that this is Dr. Katz's only significant transgression during her residency. I would tend to agree that a penalty of that magnitude would be appropriate.

But it would seem to me that Dr. Katz's indiscretion is more the stuff of undergrad students (or, possibly, 1st year med students) than a graduated physician who has obtained the MD.

I did see the original photo without the photoshopping out of the cadaver. The cadaver's facial features are more likely than not recognizable to the decedent's family. I would not be surprised if there were a lawsuit, and if the defendants include not only Dr. Katz, but also UHSB and Dr. Hartman.

And when (not if) Drs. Katz and Hartman get sued for malpractice at some points in their respective careers (such is an inevitability for a physician), this fiasco will likely be mentioned in the settlement negotiations if not in the evidence at trial.

Note to Drs. Hartman and Katz:

"Those who have no respect for the dead can have but little appreciation of the dignity of man, either living or dead."

Kotal v. Goldberg, 375 Pa. 397, 404-05, 100 A.2d 630, 634 (Pa. 1953) (Musmanno, J.).

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