Calif. doctor calls into virtual traffic court during surgery; medical board investigating

Using Zoom to connect online for meetings or virtual catch-ups during the pandemic has gone next level in a California court.

The phenomenon of utilizing Zoom to connect online for business meetings or family catch-ups amid the coronavirus pandemic has gone next level in California: A Sacramento plastic surgeon showed up for his virtual traffic court hearing from the operating room — while apparently operating. 

Dr. Scott Green was scheduled to appear in front of Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Gary Link on Thursday, and he arrived on time, albeit from the operating room, donning surgical scrubs. 

Plastic surgeon Dr. Scott Green appeared in a virtual court hearing last week from the operating room, donning surgical scrubs and bloodied gloves. (Sacramento Superior Court)

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that Green was asked if he was “available” for his trial by the courtroom clerk. “It kind of looks like you’re in an operating room right now?” 

Green replied affirmatively, stating, “I’m available for trial. Go right ahead.” 

However, Link was not as confident in proceeding as the doctor was. 

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“So unless I’m mistaken, I’m seeing a defendant that’s in the middle of an operating room appearing to be actively engaged in providing services to a patient. Is that correct, Mr. Green? Or should I say, Dr. Green?” Link asked. 

‘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,”

Green made clear for the court that another doctor was in the room doing the surgery with him, however, Link expressed discomfort right away. “I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he said. 

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He then scheduled another date. Green apologized to the court.

Link said his concern was to “keep people healthy.”

“We want to keep them alive. That’s important,” he said. “I’m concerned about the welfare of the patient, based on what I’m seeing.” 

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California law requires that traffic trials be public, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those cases are being live-streamed and later posted to YouTube, which was what was scheduled in this case. Reports have not cited what the original traffic charge was. 

While this incident has been compared to the humorous occurrence of the attorney who appeared in court unable to take off the cat filter from his Zoom call, it’s certainly not being viewed in the same lighthearted way by the Medical Board of California, which is investigating the matter. 

The board says it “expects physicians to follow the standard of care when treating their patients.” 

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