The concerns raised by ghost surgery, an unethical practice in which someone other than the surgeon who obtains consent performs an operative procedure without the patient’s knowledge, have long been ignored by bioethics and other related disciplines. Indeed, ghost surgery is neither tracked nor studied in the United States, and the practice itself remains underreported. Ghost surgery represents a corporeal transgression as well as a relational rift: what was communicated by physicians is rendered null and void, and the surgical narrative that patients thought they knew is disrobed as a lie and revealed to be a catfish. In order to combat this practice and prevent any form of medical catfishing, physicians must guarantee effective communication and transparency and view themselves as storytellers alongside their patients. By following such a framework, physicians can ideally end the simulation and suture an ethic of accountability within a co-constructed narrative.
Ghost Surgery, Narrative Ethics, Accountability, Catfishing, Medical Harm