Recovery Room Nurse Berates Man for Having a Husband
By William Dotinga
2-10-2013 11:03:00

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - A man recovering from thyroid surgery claims a Kaiser Permanente nurse launched a barrage of insults when the patient asked to have his husband brought to the recovery room.

Bernard Garcia-Keegan says in his Alameda County complaint that before he underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his thyroid, doctors told him that if the surgery took longer than 90 minutes "it would be a result of the initial test results on the thyroid cross-section coming back positive for cancer." When Garcia-Keegan awoke in the recovery room four hours later, he was concerned about the length of the surgery and asked a female nurse there to find his husband.

According to the complaint, Garcia-Keegan is legally married to his husband.

The female nurse then asked a male nurse Garcia-Keegan identifies as "Russell" to take over. When Garcia-Keegan asked if someone had gone to find his husband the male nurse replied, "I think you mean your wife."

Garcia-Keegan says he told the nurse he indeed meant husband.

"Russell then proceeded, in the presence of other patients and hospital personnel, to berate, disparage, insult and verbally abuse plaintiff, including but not limited to stating in a loud voice that plaintiff's relationship with his husband was 'fucking disgusting' and 'unnatural.' Russell then abandoned plaintiff and left the recovery room," Garcia-Keegan says in his complaint.

Garcia-Keegan says he immediately informed Kaiser personnel of the incident and later attempted to report it by telephone. He never received any follow-up from anyone at Kaiser, according to the complaint.

"While engaged in his professional duties of care as a nurse in a surgical recovery room, Russell engaged in a pattern of conduct that he knew or should have known would vex, annoy, harass and cause emotional distress to plaintiff, who was in an extremely vulnerable position following a serious surgical procedure. ... Defendant Kaiser, having a position of authority over Russell and responsible for the care and safety of plaintiff, knew or should have known that its failure to properly hire, train, supervise and monitor Russell would cause extreme damage to patients of its medical facility," Garcia-Keegan says in his complaint.

Garcia-Keegan seeks damages for medical, professional and general negligence, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

He is represented by William Denkers and Arnold M. Woods of San Bruno, Calif.