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Doctor Puts Stickers on Patient's Face During Surgery, Nurse Takes Photos

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A woman undergoing minor surgery at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in 2011 has filed a lawsuit against the hospital and the anesthesiologist because the doctor put stickers on her face as a joke while she was unconscious, and a nurse's aide in the room snapped a cellphone photo.

The victim, 36-year-old Veronica Valdez, had been a hospital employee for 13 years prior to the surgery, which was to address an issue with her finger, according to the L.A. Times.

Dr. Patrick Yang admits to putting the stickers—teardrops and a mustache he cut out and colored himself—on Valdez' face at the end of her hour-long procedure. Why? Because he thought it was funny. Yang stated in his deposition: "I thought she would think this is funny and she would appreciate it."

Nurse's aide Patricia Gomez used her cellphone to take a photo of Valdez with the stickers on her face. Gomez says she did not distribute the image or post it online, however some have testified to seeing it on Facebook, which the hospital denies. The nurse's aide says she deleted the photo from her phone after showing it to Valdez.

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Yang was asked if he pulled the prank out of boredom, reports the Daily Breeze. The doc's reply: “I don’t recall my state of mind except that I thought she would think that was funny, so I did that so she would get a kick out of it.”

Valdez did not, as it turns out, find the stickers amusing. "I felt violated. I was in shock," Valdez said, according to court documents.

“There’s no such thing as a joke in the operating room. For them to play a joke is cruel in my opinion,” attorney Andrew Ryan said, reports the Daily Breeze.

The incident is now the focus of Valdez' civil lawsuit and a state investigation.

This isn't the first time Torrance Memorial has had a photo scandal. The L.A. Times elaborates:

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Also, as part of the litigation in Los Angeles County Superior Court, a hospital manager disclosed in a deposition an earlier incident at Torrance Memorial in which a medical-device salesman took photos of a naked patient without the patient's knowledge. The hospital disputes that photos were taken in that incident.

While the hospital admits the Yang-Gomez sticker and photo incident was unprofessional, the employees "were disciplined but not fired."

Further, the hospital says the Valdez suit is a bit over the top: "Most of the allegations stated in the plaintiff's complaint are factually inaccurate, grossly exaggerated or fabricated," Torrance Memorial said, according to ABC7. The hospital is seeking to have the case dismissed.