Woman Sues Surgeon, Claiming He Took Spanish Test On Phone While Operating

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBS News) — A suburban New York woman has sued a doctor, claiming he used his cellphone to take a language test while operating on her. The Journal News reports 70-year-old Mary Edwards, of Port Chester, filed a lawsuit Monday in state Supreme Court against Dr. Eric Fishman and his employer, Westmed Medical Group. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Fishman performed surgery on Edwards to fix varicose veins twice in 2017. According to the lawsuit, Edwards claims Fishman had a conversation in Spanish on his cellphone during the second outpatient procedure.

Edwards’ attorney, Mitchell Baker, says his client is fluent in English and Spanish and could hear and understand what the doctor was saying while she was under local anesthetic. According to the lawsuit, she overheard him tell someone on the phone that he suffered from diabetes and had blurred vision.

“She was in absolute terror during the operation,” Baker told The Journal News. “She had no clue what was going on until after.”

Edwards claims Fishman later explained he was taking a Spanish proficiency test during the surgery. According to the lawsuit, Fishman said that the time of Edwards’ operation coincided with the only time he could take the oral exam, so he did it while he was operating on her.

The lawsuit cites a 2016 statement from the American College of Surgeons that states the use of cellphones in the operating room “may pose a distraction and may compromise patient care.”

A Westmed spokeswoman said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.