Surgeon defends Zoom hearing from OR, says patient safety was not jeopardized

A plastic surgeon in Northern California who appeared for a virtual court hearing from the operating room while another surgeon was performing a facelift in the background said the situation was misunderstood, local NBC affiliate KCRA reported March 8. 

Gary Link, Sacramento Superior Court commissioner, declined to proceed with a traffic court hearing Feb. 25 and said it would have to be rescheduled when Scott Green, MD, logged on to the Zoom meeting from the OR. Dr. Green, dressed in surgical gear, insisted he was ready to proceed as another surgeon was working on the patient. The Medical Board of California said it was investigating the incident. 

"This was our last case," Dr. Green told KCRA in his first interview since the hearing video went viral. "We were about halfway through it, through all the critical parts," adding that it's not unusual to take a phone call from the OR. "To me, taking a call in the OR is something that occurs all the time — not a Zoom call to traffic court because I've never been to traffic court." 

Dr. Green said he handed the case off to a surgeon he was training who had five years of experience. 

Jeffrey Segal, MD, a former neurosurgeon and Dr. Green's attorney, said the situation is a "giant misunderstanding picked up by the internet" and clarified there were no patient safety issues. 

"We've already sent a preemptive statement explaining there was no patient safety issue," Dr. Segal told the news outlet. "There was no confidentiality problem. I fully expect and anticipate the board will not have a problem with this." 

Several surgeons who spoke to KCRA said taking phone calls or leaving the OR is normal when other surgeons are present. 

"When you've got two fully qualified, fully trained plastic surgeons in the room, one could actually leave and go have a sandwich if he wanted to," said Troy Andreasen, MD, a plastic surgeon who trained with Dr. Green. 

A spokesperson for the state's medical board told the news outlet the board was reviewing the incident but did not address whether a formal investigation had been launched. 

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