TORRANCE (CBSLA.com) — A former patient at Torrance Memorial Hospital is still angry two years after learning that a doctor there decorated her face while she was out cold during surgery.
KCAL9’s Juan Fernandez spoke to attorney Andrew Ryan who represents 36-year-old Veronica Valdez.
“She was in total disbelief,” said Ryan, “She was shocked, humiliated, she felt violated. She could not believe people she trusted would rob her of her dignity like this.”
Valdez, who had also worked at the hospital for more than a decade, reportedly went in for a minor procedure.
While she was unconscious, the anesthesiologist — identified as Dr. Patrick Yang — reportedly put a paper mustache on her and drew teardrops under her left eye.
A nurse then took a picture of the prank and later texted the photo to Valdez. The former patient also said she was humiliated when the photo made the rounds at work.
She was so humiliated, in fact, Ryan tells Fernandez she had to quit her post.
Two years later she is still angry, and suing.
“First she was upset,” says Ryan, “and then she got angry.”
Torrance Memorial issued a statement Thursday evening: “The anesthesiologist and the nurse employee who took the photograph, both friendly with the patient, demonstrated poor judgement. This type of behavior, despite the familiarity of the patient is not condoned and cannot happen in an operating room.”
The medical staff involved in the prank were disciplined but both continue working at the hospital, reports Fernandez.
Meanwhile, he says the hospital is asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed.
They said the case is “factually inaccurate, grossly exaggerated or fabricated.”
A hospital spokesperson also told Fernandez that since the incident in 2011, the hospital has established guidelines — including extra training of employees, a zero tolerance policy on any unauthorized photography and employees have to sign a confidentiality agreement each and every year.
Ryan said she wants justice for herself and “to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
The case goes to trial in January.