Fresh on the heels of a lawyer accidentally transforming himself into a cat, a Californian plastic surgeon has added to the long list of Zoom gaffes by appearing on a streamed hearing live while conducting a surgery.
California-based surgeon Dr Scott Green was appearing at a Zoom trial over a traffic charge at a virtual courtroom held on Zoom for the Carol Miller Justice Centre.
All court hearings are livestreamed and posted to YouTube due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Green had already begun the procedure when he was called by the clerk to appear at the trial, when he confirmed he was in fact in his operating theatre.
“Yes, I’m in an operating room right now,” Dr Green said, as the Sacramento Bee reported. “Yes, I’m available for trial. Go right ahead.”
Medical machines can be heard beeping the background, along with suction noises, with an individual also appearing in the background of the surgeon’s screen to adjust a lamp.
The hearing was quickly cut short when Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Gary Link realised what was going on.
“So, unless I’m mistaken, I’m seeing a defendant that’s in the middle of an operating room appearing to be actively engaging in providing services to a patient,” Link said.
“Is that correct, Mr Green? Or should I say Dr Green?”
Dr Green confirmed that was in fact the case, but that there was a second surgeon there to take over the procedure.
“I have another surgeon right here who’s doing the surgery with me, so I can stand here and allow them to do the surgery also,” he said.
But Link said this was not appropriate.
“I’m going to come up with a different date when you’re not actively involved or participating and attending to the needs of a patient,” he said.
“I do not feel comfortable for the welfare of a patient if you’re in the process of operating that I would put on a trial, notwithstanding the fact the officer is here today.”
This led the surgeon to apologise.
“It happens,” Link replied. “We want to keep people healthy, we want to keep them alive. That’s important. I’m concerned about the welfare of the patient based on what I’m seeing.”
A new court date for later in March was set by the court commissioner.
Despite the apology, the Medical Board of California is now conducting an ethics investigation over the conduct of the surgeon.
“The board expects physicians to follow the standard of care when treating their patients,” the board said.
The increase in the usage of Zoom to conduct serious events such as trials has led to an increase in sometimes amusing, sometimes troubling tech incidents.
Just weeks ago, a video of a trial went viral when Texas lawyer Rod Ponton was unable to remove a filter which superimposed an image of a cat on his face, leading him to utter the now iconic line of “I’m not a cat”.
“I can see that,” the judge replied dryly.
In August last year, a number of trolls hijacked a court appearance by an individual charged with hacking the Twitter accounts of a number of high profile users, including Elon Musk and Kanye West.
The trolls constantly interrupted the court hearing after the Zoom ID was posted publicly online, with no password protection utilised.