Case of the Surgeon and the Jilted Nurse

I handled a case that could have come from a TV medical drama.

An eminent surgeon was having an affair with one of his surgical nurses.  The surgeon was married and had several children. The nurse was single.

The surgeon kept stringing the nurse along by declaring that he loved her more than his wife. He promised that he would leave his family “soon” so that he and  nurse could be together.

This went on for months. Finally, the nurse gave the surgeon an ultimatum. He needed to leave his wife as promised. Instead, the surgeon dumped the nurse. Typical.

Soon afterward, the surgeon was operating on a patient when the jilted surgical nurse started pestering him. “You said you loved me!” “You promised to leave your family for me!”  “We had plans to live together!”

He responded by repeatedly demanded she “shut up.” “This is not the time or the place.”

She wouldn’t stop.  She kept harping on him. Finally, he filled a large syringe with bodily fluids from the patient, and sprayed her in the face

The nurse screamed and ran out of the operating room. She tried to wash off all of the bio-hazards, and tried to disinfect her face.

The nurse called the police, and the surgeon was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. Obviously, he lost his surgical privileges at the hospital.

The criminal defense attorney did a masterful job of keeping the case out of the press, which would have ruined the surgeon’s reputation. Any discussions about the case took place at the bench.

The surgeon accepted my indicated sentence and pled guilty. I placed him on three years informal probation. The terms included 80 hours of community service, and paying restitution for any medical bills.

I anticipated that the restitution would be a few thousand dollars for medical testing and screening. Instead, the surgical nurse submitted a bill for $70,000 for psychological counseling

I denied her request. I ruled that her emotional issues were the result of the ongoing failed romantic relationship, not the battery. Most of the bills for therapy occurred before the battery in the operating room.

History proves that romantic relationships in the workplace, especially adulterous ones, can be hazardous.

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