Emergency Physicians Respond to Viral Video of Gainesville Doctor Ejecting Patient from Medical Clinic

12 Comments

On Tuesday night, a video emerged on Facebook that showed a Florida doctor cursing at a patient and kicking her out of an urgent care clinic. The video has since gone viral, garnering thousands of views, and getting the attention of national news outlets.

In the video, Gainesville doctor Peter Gallogly yells at Jessica Stipe, a patient complaining that though she’d signed up for a 6:30 appointment, she hadn’t been seen by 7:45 and was in “severe pain and throwing up in a trash can.”

As the encounter heats up, Stipe tells Gallogly that patients should be warned when they are not going to be seen in a timely manner. According to reports, Stipe was insisting on having her copay refunded when the altercation began.

“Are you kidding me? Do you know how many people … I got seven rooms back there,” Gallogly is heard firing back at Stipe.

“I want to go home and get in my bed,” says Stipe.

“Then get your money and get the hell out,” Gallogly responds. After pointing out how long Stipe’s wait would have been at other area facilities, Gallogly concludes with, “Get the f— out of my office.”

In a response to the incriminating video, EPM executive editor Mark Plaster responded, “I’ve felt the doc’s fatigue but his behavior will cost him dearly.”

Following the publishing of the video, Dr. Gallogly issued a statement accusing Stipe of being “increasingly belligerent and abusive to the office staff, cursing and threatening them with violence.” According to Gallogly, Stipe had received a refund but refused to leave.

Gallogly claims the video is “heavily edited and taken out of context,” but Stipe stands her ground. “What you saw is what it was,” Stipe is reported to have responded.

Gallogly has acknowledged that losing his temper as he did on the video was inappropriate, but he says he did so to defend his staff.

According to his statement, Gallogly was “merely reacting to unreasonable provocations and threats of physical violence” and “Again, while not an excuse for my behavior, a basic reason for my reaction is that I simply regard my staff as family, and I over-reacted to defend them.”

EPM senior editor and legal expert William Sullivan weighed in with a different perspective. “Yes, the doctor was being a jerk,” says Sullivan. “But there’s another big problem here. HIPAA prevents the doctor from responding. The woman can allege that he misdiagnosed her, caused her to undergo unnecessary surgery, and now she’s permanently disabled from bladder cancer – even if they were all lies. The doctor has to remain silent. Can’t defend himself. Can’t write “the ‘severe sickness’ that you mentioned in your Facebook post was a simple bladder infection that you waited six days to treat. Meanwhile, I was treating a patient with a broken arm, a patient with a possible stroke, and someone with chest pain who eventually needed to be admitted to the hospital.” HIPAA was created before social media became ubiquitous. It really needs to be changed to allow doctors to respond publicly with patient information to defend themselves if patients create public negative comments about a doctor’s care.

“This doctor could very easily lose his job and his license,” added EPM senior editor Nicholas Genes. “I hope he gets a good lawyer. In the meantime, I think others are going to be hard-pressed to mount a defense of this behavior.”

“Honestly, I am tired of whining by high paid medical faculty in the United States,” concluded EPM editor-in-chief Dr. Judith Tintinalli. “Consider the work and training situation in Europe. It’s so dire in Poland that junior doctors are currently on a hunger strike in Warsaw in an effort to finally get a menial living wage and reasonable working hours.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MANAGING EDITOR
Logan has edited and designed Emergency Physicians Monthly since 2005. In 2010, Logan launched Emergency Physicians International, a new magazine and social network for global emergency care development. He is also the editor-in-chief of Telemedicine Magazine.

12 Comments

  1. Dr. Gallogly’s statement – is online: https://www.scribd.com/document/361448083/Gallogly-Statement

    Apparently the patient and her daughter had made threats to staff, and had not left even after receiving their co-pay back, and the police had been called (by the front desk staff). So, we’re seeing just a very edited tail end of a long and unpleasant encounter. Gallogly apologizes for his behavior but the extra context is appreciated.

  2. While I well understand his frustration, I cannot agree with his behavior. She could have been “invited” to leave and shown the door if she was dissatisfied. Equally, physicians are treated poorly by many which is principally the result of the notion that healthcare is a “right”. If it is a right, then all doctors everywhere are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and must respond to every whim and complaint by patients at the patients’ discretion. We are bound by oath, ethical and moral imperatives but healthcare is NOT A RIGHT.

  3. Doctor’s don’t need to be abused and have the right to defend themselves. Any other business would have called the police and had her removed or prosecuted.

  4. Daniel Levy, MD on

    This is a tough situation, made even worse by comments like that of Dr. Tintinalli, who puts out a great textbook but works in an ivory tower. Comparing Dr. Gallogly’s situation to impoverished clinics in 3rd world countries is inane and insulting. What, because a physician in America is better paid than in Poland it’s OK to verbally abuse and threaten him and his staff? Insanity!

    My only initial issue with what happened is that he didn’t call the cops. Later, I learned he had. So what do you do with a screaming, threatening person while waiting for them to arrive? Did he lose his temper? Sure! I’ve also done so when abused by patients. I’ve also been hit and spit on by patients. Is that supposed to be tolerated because we have medical licenses and are well paid? Please!

    Dr. Gallogly did not touch this nasty patient. He simply told her to leave, and gave her an undeserved refund for her care. I stand with him!

    • Thank you Dr. Levy. Those were my thoughts exactly upon seeing Dr. Tintinalli’s comments. Maybe it’s because she has not been in patient care in a long time. I cannot help, but think this was a reasonable physician who was extremely frustrated and angered by a patient’s behavior and lost his cool. Until we know the real context of the situation this video should not be used to judge him.

  5. Social media is the scourge of modern medicine. The patients are free to lie, slander, and edit, and we have to shut up and suck it up. His was one encounter for her, but it was probably the fiftieth patient with an attitude he saw that week. EM is a nasty practice– must be everything to everybody and anticipate everyone’s needs ( in the waiting room included) and with a smile, beverage, and blanket, or the administration and contract groups and even our colleagues will crawl up your behind.

    Dr. Tintinalli, I’m sorry about Poland. However, have you checked how much contract groups are paying docs these days? And how much they pay for Urgent Care? And how much debt the average graduate has coming out of medical school and residency? The system here is broken, these docs are not making scads of money, and if we can’t fix our problems how do we even know what to respond to a situation in Poland?

  6. Philip Buttaravoli, M.D. FACEP on

    Professionalism as Emergency Physicians requires that we rise above the emotional desire to strike out against obnoxious and hostile patients. We must never take such unruly behavior personally.
    It is amazing how often you can turn around an angry patient or family member by being calmly detached and approaching them with kindness and compassion. (“I understand your frustration, I apologize for the delay. Let me have the nurse give you something to make you more comfortable and then I will see you as soon as possible.”)

    It should also be noted that corporate medicine has pushed clinicians to the limit of their ability to see patients in an efficient and timely manner. It becomes far more difficult to maintain a friendly attitude toward patients when there are four or five patients waiting to be seen and you are already overwhelmed. Physician groups should take this into consideration when determining staffing patterns and not be overly influenced by the almighty monetary bottom line.

    • “It is amazing how often you can turn around an angry patient or family member by being calmly detached and approaching them with kindness and compassion. (“I understand your frustration, I apologize for the delay. Let me have the nurse give you something to make you more comfortable and then I will see you as soon as possible.”)”

      And what on earth makes you think Dr. Gallogly and his staff did not do exactly that. This is part of the problem with our field….Patients can never be unruly. And if they are, it must always be the doctor’s fault.

      • Philip Buttaravoli, M.D. FACEP on

        I didn’t say you can always turn these patients around, but it is always worth a try.
        When patients remain unruly, it is never an excuse to get down in the mud with them and react emotionally. Just walk away and call the police. But you better be sure that they don’t have a life threatening problem underlying their bad behavior. This never looks good in the next morning’s headlines.

  7. I am surprised how things are reported in the lay press that are misleading but medical staff are not allowed to speak to media to correct misconceptions due to privacy concerns….

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