Surgeon Sued for Taking Spanish Test on Phone During Varicose Vein Treatment

varicose vein treatment

At Metro Vein Centers, board-certified specialists pride themselves on delivering superior services and positive experiences for every patient. The latest techniques and technologies are used to ensure that patients enjoy a pain-free experience and desirable outcomes from their varicose vein treatment, and that they feel comfortable and confident along every step of the journey to eliminate unsightly and painful varicose veins.

Unfortunately, not every physician takes the obligations of medical care as seriously as the highly trained and experienced specialists at Metro Vein Centers. One such practitioner, vascular surgery specialist Eric Fishman, is now under fire for allegedly taking a Spanish exam on his phone while delivering treatment to a patient under local anesthesia.

The patient, 70-year-old Mary Edwards of Port Chester, New York, is now suing Dr. Eric Fishman and his employer, Westmed Medical Group, for emotional distress suffered as a result of what she overheard during her procedure. What’s the story, and what does it mean for the medical community and patients?

What Happened during the Varicose Vein Treatment?

According to Mary Edwards’ claim, she was visiting Dr. Fishman for her second varicose vein treatment when the incident in question took place. During her first surgery, back in April of 2017, she claims that Fishman and another individual in the operating room behaved inappropriately by speaking about another patient’s medical condition in front of her.

Then, when she returned for her second surgical procedure, the situation was even worse. While fully alert under local anesthesia, Edwards claims that she witnessed Fishman handling his cell phone and conducting a conversation, speaking in both Spanish and English. The patient, fluent in both languages, was unaware of who he was speaking with but overheard him say that he suffered from diabetes and had blurred vision.

According to Edwards’ attorney, Mitchell Baker, this caused her understandable concern. Said Baker, “She was in absolute terror during the operation. She had no clue what was going on until after.”

Following the procedure, Fishman allegedly explained that he was actually taking a Spanish proficiency test and that the only available time for the oral exam was during her surgery, so he elected to do both at the same time. In other words, he didn’t have diabetes or blurred vision – the conversation Mary Edwards overheard was only part of his proficiency exam.

The lawsuit alleges that he further explained he needed to be certified in Spanish because he had many Spanish-speaking clients. Although the outpatient procedure was successfully completed at the time, Edwards later filed a lawsuit with the New York Supreme Court in White Plains, seeking unspecified monetary damages for the emotional distress she suffered as a result of the incident.

The lawsuit also claims that two officials from the Westmed Medical Group met with Edwards following the second surgery and acknowledged that Dr. Fishman’s behavior on both occasions was inappropriate. A spokeswoman at the medical group stated that the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation or patient care.

In the lawsuit, Baker suggested that Fishman violated recommendations made by the American College of Surgeons, citing a 2016 statement that declared the use of cellphones in the operating room “may pose a distraction and may compromise patient care.”

Said Baker, “(There is an argument that) in an emergency (cellphones) can be helpful. But this was no emergency. The doctor felt he could do both.” As a result, Dr. Fishman is now facing a lawsuit.

What Does This Mean for the Medical Community?

For reputable and reliable institutions like Metro Vein Centers that already offer superior care, this lawsuit should not have much overall impact. The board-certified physicians at Metro Vein Centers take their responsibilities toward patients very seriously, and would never compromise patient care and safety by multitasking, especially not during sensitive and complex varicose vein treatment.

That said, it’s understandable that patients might have additional concerns going into surgical procedures after hearing about this incident. The doctor in question, Eric Fishman, showed a clear lack of judgment and violated recommended industry standards by choosing to take an oral exam on his cellphone during a surgical procedure.

However, the competent and caring specialists at Metro Vein Centers are dedicated to providing the best possible experience for every patient. This means focusing solely on patient safety and care, and exceeding expectations during every interaction, from consultation to surgical procedures, to aftercare appointments.

Metro Vein Centers goes above and beyond to ensure that patients feel comfortable and confident in the care they receive. With training in the latest techniques and technologies for varicose vein treatment, the specialists at Metro Vein Centers are able to offer convenient treatment options like sclerotherapy, endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), and ambulatory phlebectomy.

These minimally-invasive, outpatient procedures require only the use of local anesthesia and entail less pain and downtime than outdated and invasive surgical procedures like vein stripping. That said, they still require physicians to be focused on the task at hand.

When Dr. Eric Fishman decided to split his attention between his patient and his phone, he not only put himself first, potentially impacting patient care, but he broke the sacred trust between patient and healthcare provider. The qualified and caring specialists at Metro Vein Centers would never compromise patient care or trust in this manner.

What Can Patients Do to Feel Safe?

First and foremost, do some research to choose a reputable institution like Metro Vein Centers to perform your varicose vein treatment. With locations in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, there may be a Metro Vein Centers near you.

Next, don’t be afraid to advocate on your own behalf. The specialists at Metro Vein Centers are always happy to answer any questions and put your mind at ease. Patients are encouraged to voice any concerns during consultations, procedures, or anytime throughout the process. The physicians at Metro Vein Centers pride themselves on positive interactions and the best possible patient outcomes, and this stems from building trust and delivering superior care.

Doctors like Eric Fishman that act in their own interests at the expense of patients create an atmosphere of uncertainty. The dedicated professionals at Metro Vein Centers do just the opposite, working hard to ensure that every patient is confident that they will receive the quality care they deserve and then delivering on that promise.

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