US plastic surgeon attends video traffic court from operating room

LOS ANGELES (NYTIMES) – The Medical Board of California said it was investigating a plastic surgeon who attended a video traffic court hearing from an operating room while dressed in scrubs and with a patient on the surgical table.

The surgeon, Dr Scott Green, reported by video-conference for a trial in Sacramento Superior Court on Thursday (Feb 25).

“Hello, Mr Green? Hi, are you available for trial?” a courtroom clerk said as Dr Green, wearing a surgical mask and cap, appeared in a virtual square with operating room lighting fixtures visible behind him. “It kind of looks like you’re in an operating room right now.”

“I am, sir,” Dr Green replied as machines beeped in the background. “Yes, I’m in an operating room right now. I’m available for trial. Go right ahead.”

The clerk advised Dr Green that the hearing, which was reported by The Sacramento Bee, would be livestreamed on YouTube.

After Dr Green was sworn in, his camera briefly swivelled and revealed a person on an operating table.

Mr Gary Link, a Sacramento Superior Court commissioner, appeared on camera.

“Unless I’m mistaken, I’m seeing a defendant that’s in the middle of an operating room appearing to be actively engaged in providing services to a patient,” Mr Link said. “Is that correct, Mr Green? Or should I say Dr Green?”

Dr Green confirmed that it was.

Mr Link continued, “I do not feel comfortable for the welfare of a patient if you’re in the process of operating that I would put on a trial notwithstanding the fact the officer is here today.”

Dr Green explained that there was another surgeon in the room who could perform the surgery.

But Mr Link disagreed.

“I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he said, adding that he would reschedule the trial for a time when Dr Green was not operating on a patient.

“We want to keep people healthy, we want to keep them alive. That’s important,” Mr Link said. He set March 4 as a new trial date.

The reason for Dr Green’s court appearance was unclear.

Dr Green, who has offices in Sacramento and Granite Bay, California, did not responded to a request for comment Sunday. Mr Link also could not be reached.

Mr Carlos Villatoro, a spokesperson for the Medical Board of California, said the board was aware of the hearing and “will be looking into it, as it does with all complaints it receives.”

The board, he said, “expects physicians to follow the standard of care when treating their patients.” Mr Villatoro declined to offer further details, citing the legal confidentiality of complaints and investigations.

As court proceedings have moved online during the coronavirus pandemic, missteps have abounded.

Judges have complained about lawyers attending proceedings shirtless and defendants logging on for hearings in bikinis and even naked.

In February, a lawyer who could not figure out how to turn off a filter that made him look like a kitten found himself insisting to a judge that he was not, in fact, a cat.

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