Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dr. Z

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to an article detailing the alleged misdeeds of Seattle resident Arthur Zilberstein. Like countless Americans, Art often found himself distracted by his smartphone while at work. Unlike most Americans, Art works as an anesthesiologist. Dr. Zilberstein was recently suspended by the Washington State Department of Health pending the outcome of an investigation  
Dr. Z
He has been accused of exchanging personal (and often sexually explicit) text messages during 23 different operations while he was serving as the responsible anesthesiologist. For instance, while arranging a booty-call during the birth of someone’s child he explained to his paramour that he was “hella busy with C-sections.”  In addition to keeping the honeys on standby during multiple births, he is also accused of sexting his way through a pediatric appendectomy and a foot reconstruction.

As if this was not enough, the lengthy complaint against him also cites improperly prescribing narcotics, having sex at the hospital with one of the patients to whom he had improperly prescribed narcotics, and texting a picture of his genitals (next to his hospital ID) to a patient. For good measure, he is also accused of improperly accessing patient records.

As is the case in many hospitals, Dr. Zilberstein was a contract employee. Perhaps most disconcerting is the fact that the hospital itself was unaware of any of this until after his license had been suspended. They issued the following statement:

“Once we learned that the State had suspended this physician's medical license, the physician's Medical Staff membership and privileges were immediately suspended. We just recently learned of these allegations and are conducting our own internal review of the physician…”

When I first heard the story, I naturally assumed the hospital had been an active participant in building the case against him. After all, it appears that many of the infractions occurred on their property to individuals they classified as their patients. However, their press release makes it seem like the only reason Dr. Z isn’t currently taking a pants-less selfie in operating theater 4C is because an observant nurse with The Huffington Post app came running out of the break room announcing, 

“Guys! I think I know why Art didn’t answer his pages!”

I did appreciate both the professionalism and grammatical prowess he displayed while the life of a woman and her unborn child hung in the balance. A lesser anesthesiologist might have simply ignored an ill-timed text without taking the time to explain that he was “hella busy” but Dr. Z certainly has enough integrity to communicate with all of his patients in a timely manner. Especially the ones with whom he has a pre-existing controlled-substances-for-conjugal-visits arrangement.

It was also a nice touch that he included his hospital ID badge in the picture with his man bits. I assume the purpose of this was twofold:

1.      To provide irrefutable proof that he was both in possession of both male reproductive organs AND a full-time job.
2.      To prevent confusion in the event that the message’s recipient frequently received photos of a Caucasian phallus protruding from hospital scrubs.    

Either way, I am sure the nature of the photo will make it somewhat difficult to deny his involvement. I can see the cross-examination now:

“Dr. Zilberstein. Are we to understand that you believe someone, without your knowledge, absconded with both your cell phone and ID badge and preceded to text a picture of their tally-whacker to one of your patients whom you just happened to be prescribing large amounts of narcotics to and then managed to return these items to you undetected?”

As of this writing, he has not responded to the board’s accusations. Although I suspect that if he did respond it would probably be issued on his Twitter account:

Haters gonna’ hate!  #Dr.Feelgood   #PrescriptionMeds4CompliantCoeds

This is a sad state of affairs. Both the public and the hospital are fortunate he was stopped before his negligence resulted in a fatality. While I realize that we are all human, these are some of the most generously-compensated staff involved in modern medicine. I don’t think that it is too much to ask that they update their Facebook status after they make sure I wake up from my hernia operation. I certainly do not consider myself a prude and if you got it you got it; all I ask is that you don’t remove it from your scrubs, open your camera app, and document it while giving my wife an epidural.

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