Dr. Steven Kirshner, board certified orthopedic surgeon of Burlington County, New Jersey, evidently thinks laughter really is the best medicine.
So he likes to place temporary tattoos on anesthetized patients, as a little surprise for when they get home.
In a lawsuit filed yesterday, a Camden County woman accused her orthopedic surgeon of "rubbing a temporary tattoo of a red rose" on her belly while she was under anesthesia.
The patient discovered the tattoo below the panty line the next morning, when her husband was helping her get dressed to go home after the operation for a herniated disc…
He provides this service because it makes his patients feel better. Allegedly.
Kirshner does not deny placing the tattoo – and has left washable marks on patients before to improve their spirits, his lawyer, Robert Agre of Haddonfield, said last night. He said none has complained.
"What's offensive about this complaint is that it suggests something he did was intended to be prurient, and nothing could be further from the truth," said Agre. "It was intended just to make the patient feel better."
File Dr. Kirshner next to Robin Williams in Patch Adams and that Hawkeye Pierce guy in M*A*S*H*.
"What's this? What the hell? A TATTOO?!? OH MY GAWD! THAT SICK BASTARD! JESUS CHR- … oh wait … it's rubbing off. Oh that Dr. Kirshner, always kidding. You sure got me this time, doc!"
I'm sure that's how all of Dr. Kirshner's patients react, except for that spoilsport Elizabeth Mateo, the plaintiff in this suit, who had to go and ruin the fun for wacky Dr. Kirshner and all of his future patients.
Ordinarily I'm not a fan of suits for pure emotional distress. Either you really got hurt, or you need to get over it. But a case like this is tailor-made for the doctrine that a plaintiff should be able to recover for severe emotional distress, and Dr. Kirshner, I'm sure, will make a most humorous and fun-loving impression before the jury
Memo to Robert Agre: Get a better defense, or tell your client to get out his checkbook.