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Posted: April 07, 2016

Patient records surgeons gossiping about her on the table

By Cox Media Group National Content Desk

HOUSTON —

A Houston, Texas, patient said she is upset after her surgeon and other operating room workers made negative remarks about her body while she was in surgery.

Ethel Easter said her first interaction with the doctor when she was told she would need surgery prompted her to record it.

Easter told KRIV her doctor told her she would have to wait two months to schedule a surgery on her hernia.

"I was like, 'I can’t wait for two months. I’m terribly ill,' and he said, 'Listen,' He got very abrupt," Easter said. "He said, 'Who do you think you are? You have to wait just like everybody else,'" Easter said.

Easter said she did not trust her doctor from the start, but she was in so much pain she moved forward, scheduling the surgery with Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital for August.

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Easter's skepticism led her to put a recorder the size of a USB drive in her hair to record the surgeon.

“I was fearful,” Easter said. “I didn’t know if I was going to come out of the surgery, so I just wanted my family to know if something went on.”

Easter said her hair was in braided extensions at the time, so she put her hair in a ponytail and put the recorder inside.

While Easter was under anesthesia and in surgery, her surgeon is heard telling other doctors about their earlier conversation.

The Washington Post reported what portions they heard from the recording.

"She’s a handful. She had some choice words for us in the clinic when we didn’t book her case in two weeks," he said in the recording. "She said, ‘I’m going to call a lawyer and file a complaint.'"

Easter said she did not mention a lawyer.

"That doesn’t seem like the thing to say to the person who’s going to do your surgery," another male voice replied.

The anesthesiologist and surgeon also made remarks about Easter's body.

"Did you see her belly button?” a doctor said to laughter.

The surgeon can be heard saying the name "Precious" several times, which Easter interpreted as racial in tone.

"(Precious, a movie character) was an obese African-American woman who was raped by her father. I was distraught," Easter told ABC News.

At another point, the anesthesiologist asked the doctor if she could touch Easter.

"I can touch her,” the surgeon is heard saying.

"That’s a Bill Cosby suggestion," someone said. "Everybody’s got things on phones these days. Everybody’s got a camera."

The Washington Post reported it is hard to hear what is being said in most of the recording.

Easter said what bothered her the most was when she felt the doctors were not expressing concern about her penicillin allergy.

The beginning of the recording has audio of Easter telling the surgeon she had a reaction as a baby.

In the recording, the surgeon allegedly said the reaction was not enough of an issue to prevent injecting Easter with an antibiotic that has side effects in a few penicillin-allergic patients.

At the end of the recording, Easter can be heard telling a doctor she felt itchy. She told The Washington Post her arms swelled up and she got rashes shortly after the surgery.

She said her husband had to bring her back to the hospital, where she was sent to the emergency room and treated for an allergic reaction.

Easter claimed the reaction is why she listened to the recording.

“He jeopardized my life,” Easter said. “It’s just by the grace of God that I’m even alive right now. It was an unnecessary risk that he took with me.”

She said she sent the recording and a letter of complaint to the hospital last year.

“With regards to the recording, as I explained in my prior correspondence, we reminded the OR staff and physicians to be mindful of their comments at all times,” Stacey Mitchell, an administrative director for the Harris Health System, to which Easter's hospital belongs, said in a December letter. "After carefully listening to the recording that you provided, Harris Health does not believe further action is warranted at this time.”

Easter said she released the recording to "make people aware of what was happening."

She claims to now have "trust issues" since the incident, saying, "Even my husband has said that I’m not the same person he married."

Easter told ABC News Wednesday she was not sure if she will sue the hospital.

She took an audio recorder into her surgery, and she was horrified by what she heard.

Posted by Washington Post on Thursday, April 7, 2016

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