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.”