On June 14, 2023, a jury found Dr. Geoffrey Kim, a plastic surgeon guilty of Attempted Reckless Manslaughter and Obstruction of Telephone Service following the death of a patient who came to his clinic for a breast augmentation procedure.
On August 1, 2019, Emmalyn Nguyen, 18, slipped into a coma and went into cardiac arrest after receiving anesthesia.
A nurse anesthetist testified on the witness stand that he advised Kim that the patient needed immediate medical attention in a hospital setting and that 9-1-1 should be called. Ultimately, the investigation revealed Kim failed to call for help for five hours after the patient went into cardiac arrest. The obstruction charge addressed testimony that several medical professionals, including two nurses had requested permission to call 911 to transfer care—requests that Kim, the owner of the surgery center, denied.
Nguyen ultimately passed away in a nursing home a year later in October 2020.
The defense claimed all of the blame lay at the hands of the nurse anesthetist. The People’s experts addressed care that might have made a difference after the arrest. The defense put on one expert, who testified that transferring care would not have made a difference. That same defense expert, however, also conceded that Kim did not act with the urgency required in the aftermath of Nguyen’s cardiac arrest, and that there was no reason not to have transferred care.
“We understand medical procedures don’t always go as planned, but this defendant showed a shocking and extreme lack of judgment and humanity by failing to call for an ambulance and denying his patient appropriate treatment in a hospital setting,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Gary Dawson said. “Patients put their trust in doctors and the outcome might have been different had the defendant sought appropriate medical care. This defendant made decisions based on what was best for his business and not for his patient.”
Kim faces up to 3 years in the Department of Corrections.
Sentencing is scheduled for September 8.