The continuing popularity of social media means that cosmetic surgeons now have new avenues to explore when it comes to promoting their practice and spotlighting their surgical skills. Patients have grown accustomed to plastic surgeons taking them behind the scenes and into the operating room. Surgeons have recorded and/or streamed live from their medical procedures to give those interested in undergoing a treatment an “up close and personal” view of how cosmetic surgery is performed. One surgeon in California took the idea of streaming from a surgical procedure a step too far by attending traffic court while in the operating room.
The Medical Board of California has opened an investigation into a plastic surgeon who attended a video traffic court hearing last month. When calling into his trial in Sacramento Superior Court, Dr. Scott Green was actually calling from an operating room. If there was any doubt that he was in the middle of a surgical procedure, the doctor was dressed in scrubs and also had an actual patient on the surgical table during the call.
The courtroom clerk addressed Dr. Green as he appeared in a virtual square. The square contained lighting fixtures, as found in an operating room, positioned behind the doctor. The courtroom clerk asked “Hello Mr. Green? Hi, are you available for trial? It kind of looks like you’re in an operating room right now.”
Dr. Green replied “I am, sir” as medical equipment could be heard beeping in the background. The doctor, who was also wearing surgical scrubs, continued, “Yes, I am in an operating room right now. I’m available for trial. Go right ahead.”
The clerk then advised the doctor that the hearing would be streamed live to the public. Traffic trials are required by law to be open to the general public. Dr. Green acknowledged that he understood this fact and kept working (with his head facing down) while he waited for Court Commissioner Gary Link to enter the chamber for the trial to begin.
Once Dr. Green was sworn in, the camera he was using swiveled about and the motion of the camera revealed there was a person on the operating table.
The Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner, Gary Link, appeared on camera and said “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. Is that correct, Mr. Green? Or should I say Dr. Green?”
The doctor confirmed that he was actively providing services to a patient which caused Mr. Link to reconsider holding the trial at that moment. The Court Commissioner said he was not comfortable with the idea since he was concerned for the welfare of the patient.
Dr. Green went on to explain there was another surgeon that was present in the room and that the second surgeon could go ahead and perform the surgery. “I have another surgeon right here who’s doing the surgery with me, so I can stand here and allow them to do the surgery also.”
Even with the idea of the other surgeon performing the procedure, Mr. Link was not willing to continue with the proceedings. Dr. Green tried to apologize and started to say “Sometimes, surgery doesn’t always go as,” before he was interrupted by the court.
Mr. Link said he did not feel it was an appropriate choice to hold the trial under the current circumstances of the surgery being performed. He told Dr. Green they would set a new trial date for a time “when you’re not actively involved or participating and attending to the needs of a patient.” He added, “I don’t think that’s appropriate. We want to keep people healthy, we want to keep them alive. That’s important.”
The trial was eventually rescheduled for early March. News reports about the attempted traffic court trial did not give the reasons for Dr. Green’s court appearance.
Dr. Green, who has medical offices in Sacramento, California and Granite Bay, California, has not publicly commented on the incident.
Carlos Villatoro, a spokesman for the Medical Board of California, told the media the board was aware of what happened at the virtual court hearing and “will be looking into it, as it does with all complaints it receives.” Villatoro added that the Medical Board of California “expects physicians to follow the standard of care when treating their patients.”
When asked about the next steps to be taken by the medical board, Villatoro declined to elaborate citing the legal confidentiality of complaints against doctors and ongoing investigations.
While patients do expect their surgeon to perform some social media or streaming before, during or after a procedure, it seems obvious to say they want the doctor to focus on their rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction or fillers and not attempt to attend a court date at the same time.