Ethel Easter, a real estate agent, who underwent surgery at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston, was baffled at what doctors said about her once she was sedated.
Prior to Easter’s operation, she said she was in tears when the doctor told her she would have to wait two months to schedule her hernia surgery, and it was his tone that prompted her to record him.
“I was like, ‘I can’t wait for two months.’ I’m terribly ill, and he said ‘listen’ he got very abrupt. He said ‘who do you think you are? You have to wait just like everybody else’,” Easter said.
Easter then hid an audio recorder in her hair extensions while undergoing a hernia operation.
“This is my natural hair, I had a weave at the time—which is braid extensions—and when I put my hair up I put the recorder right in my hair,” Easter told Fox26.
Easter said as soon as the surgeons heard her snoring, they began with the body-shaming.
Fox 26 reports what was on the tape:
Surgeon on tape: “She’s a handful she had some choice words for us in the clinic when we didn’t book her case in two weeks.”
Other male voice on tape: “Really”
Surgeon: “I’m going to call a lawyer and file a complaint” (laughter)
Other male voice: “That doesn’t seem like the thing to say to the person whose going to do your surgery”
Easter says some of the OR staff made disparaging remarks about her body. You can hear a nurse in the OR laughing about it:
“Did you see her belly button?” says a female voice on the tape which is followed by laughter.
On the tape you can hear a male OR staff member say to the anesthesiologist, “Precious meet Precious.”
“It was ‘Precious meet Precious,’ as though I was this big fat black woman,” Easter told Fox 26.
“When I heard the comments on the tape and listened to them I was shocked,” said community activist Quanell X. “I had no idea that doctors, anesthesiologists, and nurses would carry themselves in this manner in an operating room.”
The Houston woman told Yahoo News that the entire experience has given her “self-esteem issues.”
The patient said she is not sure if she will pursue legal action, according to the New York Daily News, but added “When you are lying there and these people have you uncovered and you trust them and they speak like this, it’s a bad situation.”
A spokesman for Harris Health System who runs the hospital, sent Easter a letter saying that it has warned the OR staff and physicians to be more mindful of patients in the operating room.
Last June, a Virginia man was awarded $500,000 after he recorded doctors throwing insults about him possibly having syphilis or tuberculosis during his colonoscopy.