We want to believe that the medical professionals we trust with our lives are sane and reasonable. After all, they are the ones holding the scalpels and measuring out the amount of drugs that won't kill us. But, we're sorry to say, the number of crazy people in the medical establishment is greater than zero. Just look at the case of ...
#5. The Surgeon Who Carved His Initials into a Patient
It's hard to imagine anyone getting really pumped up about performing surgery, but we suppose every job has "that guy." You know -- somebody who's always trash talking and fist bumping and referring to himself by some nickname like "Z-Bone." The type of surgeon who, after a successful procedure, would decide to sign his fucking name to it like a pro athlete signing a game ball.
"Think he'll notice?"
That brings us to Dr. Allan Zarkin, who was so pleased with the Caesarean section he performed that he decided to tag it with his initials. We don't mean he pulled out a Sharpie, either -- Zarkin (appropriately nicknamed "Dr. Zorro" by the press) carved the initials "AZ" into Liana Gedz's stomach, presumably forgetting that human beings are not pumpkins, public playground equipment or school desks.
Apparently, Zarkin had a reputation among hospital staff for being "larger than life" and "a little nutty," citing his fashionable dress and joking nature. Gedz, however, had to go and remind everybody that the real world does not tolerate wacky surgeons as easily as in the Scrubs universe and sued Zarkin and the hospital for $5.5 million in damages.
"It's basically a free tattoo! What's her problem?"
Remarkably, Zarkin's defense was that he has a degenerative brain condition called Pick's disease. Well, that's OK then. Because nothing says "acquit" like "I shouldn't be performing surgery in the first place because my brain is dying."
Naturally, Zarkin was dismissed from Beth Israel Hospital, which had been fined $14,000 by the state, in addition to the massive lawsuit from the patient. So you'd think he'd vanish quietly into retirement, right? Actually, a few months after the incident, he got another job at Choices Women's Medical Center performing, you guessed it, women's health services. Good thing he got that brain thing fixed!
"Next time, I'll sign her on the inside."
#4. The Nurse Who Injected Herself With Her Patient's Drugs
So, imagine you're on the operating table, waiting for surgery to remove kidney stones. You're already nervous, anxious for it to be over, wondering how much it's going to hurt. The nurse comes in with a syringe containing your anesthetic. She promptly sticks it into her own arm and presses down the plunger. You'd have a million questions, and would probably be unable to bring yourself to ask any of them.
"No, no. This needle is to steady my hand for your injection."
This scenario played out for patient Larry King (not that Larry King), who went in for surgery and came out with a horrible, horrible story to tell. Nurse Sarah May Casareto was working that day, and her opiate addiction had her jonesing for some high-end medical drugs. When she saw that syringe, it was evidently too much to bear, and she knew she had to put her own addiction ahead of the patient's need to not be in indescribable agony.
Now, don't worry, she didn't take all of King's anesthetic -- only two-thirds of it. So he did have a third of the prescribed dose, which, as it turns out, is not nearly enough for a man about to have sharp stones slowly dug out of his body.
"He wasn't in as much pain as I went through dealing with him."
Oddly, the other staff don't seem to have put two and two together when King started screaming that he could feel the knife slicing into his kidneys, while Casareto started acting high as balls (even falling asleep at one point). During the agonizing ordeal, Casareto urged the writhing King to "man up" and "go to his happy place," which trusted sources tell us are not the words that a man with a tube drilled through his back wants to hear.
Eventually, someone did manage to connect the mysterious disappearing anesthetic with the tripping nurse. That is, after King went to the police to file a report, and Casareto was arrested. We're hoping that in court she went for the "I was aiming the needle at the patient but I missed" defense.
Or the old "I was sampling the medicine to ensure its quality."
#3. The Surgeon Who Went to the Bank (During Surgery)
Look, every single person reading this has had a day at work where you just mailed it in, because there were other things going on in your life and you just couldn't focus on the job. We don't care if you work on an assembly line pushing chips into Pringles tubes or if you're the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you've had that day when you just weren't all the way there, mentally. You spent the day checking your email for some important message you were expecting, or on the phone dealing with some bank or Realtor or lawyer.
"Full disclosure, guys, I have no idea where these shells are landing."
Surgeons are no different. For instance, say you're a surgeon with money problems. You're at work, worrying yourself into knots about whether those checks you wrote will get cashed before you can deposit your paycheck. You're fretting about it, you're distracted. Also, you've got a patient lying on the table with his back opened up, because you have an intensive all-day spine operation, and it's not like you can just reschedule it. Who's going to really notice if you just leave for half an hour to go cash your paycheck?
At least he wasn't a brain surgeon.
Patient Charles Algeri was the one lying in the OR getting his spine welded together by Dr. David Arndt in a marathon daylong surgery when it became clear that the doctor had other concerns on his mind. He repeatedly asked the nurses to find out if his paycheck had arrived. When another surgeon, Leo Troy, passed by to drop the check off, Arndt asked Troy to watch the patient for "about five minutes." Then the surgeon walked right the hell out of the hospital, got behind the wheel of his car (hopefully still wearing blood-stained scrubs) and drove to the bank. Bill collectors don't wait, bro!
Those few minutes turned into half an hour, and Algeri (who found out about it after the surgery) didn't think that the doc avoiding late fees was a good enough reason to leave him lying wide open on an operating table. He sued the surgeon for malpractice, dooming who knows how many patients to having a doctor perform surgery on them while he's on the phone with his lawyer.
"Oh shit ... where did my charger go?"