'I'm operating': doctor who made Zoom court appearance while in surgery investigated

A plastic surgeon is under an ethics investigation in California for appearing at a virtual court hearing while dressed in medical scrubs and operating on a patient.

Dr Scott Green had already begun the procedure when he was called by the clerk of the Sacramento superior court to answer a traffic charge.

“Are you available for trial?” the clerk asked, as the hearing streamed live on YouTube. “It kind of looks like you’re in an operating room right now?”

“I am sir. Yes, I’m in an operating room right now. Yes, I’m available for trial. Go right ahead,” Green replied, with beeps from medical equipment and suction noises audible. In the background another individual in surgical scrubs is seen adjusting lamps over the operating table.

The hearing, which was live-streaming according to the court’s Covid-19 protocols, was promptly adjourned when the presiding commissioner, Gary Link, realised what was going on.

“So 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?” Link asked, according to the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

Green replied that he was, but that a second surgeon was present and able to take over the procedure while he addressed the court.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” Link said. “I’m going to come up with a different date when you’re not actively involved or participating and attending to the needs of a patient.”

Despite Green’s apology, the Medical Board of California has said it will investigate. “The board expects physicians to follow the standard of care when treating their patients,” it said in a statement.

Green joins a growing list of professionals to have fallen foul of online court procedures imposed by the pandemic. Rod Ponton, a Texas lawyer, was widely ridiculed earlier in February when he was unable to remove a cat’s head filter superimposed on his face during a hearing on Zoom.

“I’m here live. I’m not a cat,” Ponton explained to Judge Roy Ferguson as an assistant scrambled to remove the filter.

“I can see that,” Ferguson responded.


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