Medical authorities in California have said they will investigate a plastic surgeon who appeared in a videoconference for a traffic violation trial while operating.
Dr Scott Green appeared for his trial at Sacramento superior court on Thursday, held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, from an operating room, reports the Guardian citing the Sacramento Bee.
He was dressed in surgical scrubs with a patient undergoing a procedure just out of view; the beeps of medical machinery can be heard in the background.
"Hello, Mr Green? Hi. Are you available for trial?" asked a courtroom clerk as an officer summoned to appear in trial raised her eyebrows.
"It kind of looks like you're in an operating room right now?"
"I am, sir," Green replied. "Yes, I'm in an operating room right now. Yes, I'm available for trial. Go right ahead."
The clerk reminded Green the proceedings were being livestreamed because traffic trials are required by law to be open to the public, and Green said he understood. He appeared to continue working with his head down while waiting for court commissioner Gary Link to enter the chamber.
When Link appeared and saw the doctor on the screen, the judge hesitated to proceed with the trial out of concern for the welfare of the patient.
"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," Green said.
The judge said he didn't think it was appropriate to conduct trial under the circumstances. He told Green he'd rather set a new date for trial "when you're not actively involved or participating and attending to the needs of a patient".
"Sometimes, surgery doesn't always go as…" he said, before the judge interrupted him.
Link said: "It happens. We want to keep people healthy, we want to keep them alive. That's important."
The Medical Board of California said it would look into the incident, saying it "expects physicians to follow the standard of care when treating their patients".
A call seeking comment from Green has not been returned.