Discipline is likely from nursing board

In addition to any monetary payout from the defendants in the surgery prank case involving Metroplex Adventist Hospital in Killeen, TX, the individual defendants also might find their careers in jeopardy, says Alex J. Keoskey, JD, a partner specializing in healthcare litigation with the law firm of DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole in Teaneck, NJ.

"All of these nurses are individually regulated by the Texas Board of Nursing, so they may have violated rules and regulations there that will make them individually susceptible to discipline by that board," he says. "The hospital may have a problem from a regulatory standpoint with the Texas Department of State Health Services."

Keoskey says that if the allegations are true and two staff members stood by and did not interfere with two nurses playing a joke on an anesthetized patient, that inaction signals a serious problem within the hospital. Other staff members, such as those in post-op recovery, must have seen the prank but did not report it either, he says.

"I just can't believe this is an isolated incident at this hospital," he says. "The plaintiff also claims that his reports of harassment and a hostile work environment went unanswered by hospital leadership, and I find that amazing. That is inexcusable. If that person did complain and those complaints were ignored, that is a serious transgression. And I'm talking about any supervisor who heard the complaint and certainly the risk manager."