Heart Surgery Video Got a Grammar School Screening, Family Claims
PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A Pennsylvania man claims his late father's botched heart surgery was videotaped without consent, and that the tape found its way into the hands of a doctor's 7-year-old daughter, who shared it with classmates.
In addition to creating and mishandling the tape, the negligence of Aria Healthcare System dba Frankford Hospital and Dr. Randy K. Metcalf led to the death of Gilbert Demirjian Sr., according to a state-court lawsuit.
Demirjian's survivors, led by Gilbert Demirjian Jr., say Metcalf concealed that he "would be entertaining his 7 year old daughter during and after the critical procedure."
After performing a coronary revascularization procedure on Gilbert Demirjian Sr. in August 2007, Metcalf "left the operating room with his 7 year old daughter and allowed a 'non physician' assistant ... to close and monitor the patient," according to the lawsuit.
Soon after Metcalf left, Demirjian's blood pressure dropped precipitously and he died, leaving behind three children and six grandchildren, the complaint states.
In the critical hours leading up to Demirjian's death, Metcalf "struggled to properly perform the insertion of an intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) for which Metcalf had not received specific training," according to the complaint.
The Demirjians say they later learned that Frankford let Metcalf perform IABP procedures even though it had collected data from 2006 and 2007, showing "that Dr. Metcalf had substantially higher than expected mortality and morbidity rates on the procedures in question than any other surgeon listed in the entire State of Pennsylvania."
Metcalf risked Demirjian's life by "concentrating on making a movie of plaintiff's surgery without plaintiff's consent," according to the lawsuit.
"When Defendant Metcalf was confronted with the claim regarding his videotaping of the plaintiff during his surgery, he denied it; however, it was ultimately determined by the Department of Health and Human Services and the JCAHO that the videotaping had taken place without the plaintiff's consent," the Demirjians claim, using the acronym for the former Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. "The videotape was then shown to multiple individuals at Episcopal Acedemy even though defendant Metcalf knew the patient's procedure had resulted in a terrible outcome."
"Unlawfully filming plaintiff during a fatal operation and distributing said video violated plaintiff's right of privacy," the complaint continues.
Demirjian's estate says it only learned about "these horrific events" from an anonymous June 2010 phone call.
"The anonymous caller advised Mr. Demirjian, Jr. to make an inquiry regarding the circumstances of the death of his father because there was gross misconduct involved," the suit states. "As a result of that phone call, plaintiff's family obtained his medical records, consulted legal counsel, and ultimately their investigation led to the discovery of the atrocities."
The Demirjians seek damages, alleging medical malpractice, invasion of privacy and battery. They are represented by Gavin Lentz with Bochetto & Lentz. Lentz declined to provide more information about the "'non physician' assistant" allegedly left to close the surgery.
Neither Aria Health nor Metcalf have returned requests seeking comment.