A prominent Colorado plastic surgeon is facing years behind bars.
According to Arapahoe County officials, Dr. Geoffrey Kim was found guilty in connection to the 2020 death of Emmalyn Nguyen, a teenage patient who died as a result of a botched breast augmentation. Investigators said the then-18-year-old woman went in for the procedure on Aug. 1, 2019, and was administered general anesthesia; however, the recent high school graduate went into cardiac arrest just 15 minutes later.
Staff at the Colorado Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery clinic reportedly performed CPR on Nguyen and urged Kim to seek emergency help. Though the patient was resuscitated on the operating table, nurses claimed Kim prohibited them from calling 911 until five hours after Nguyen’s heart stopped. The woman ultimately suffered irreversible brain damage and died 14 months later.
On Wednesday, a Colorado jury found Kim guilty of attempted manslaughter and obstruction of telephone service. He was acquitted of the most serious charge, criminally negligent homicide. Rex Meeker, the nurse who administered the anesthesia, was also charged with manslaughter; but prosecutors decided to drop his case after he agreed to testify against Kim.
“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 in s statement. “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, who is now facing up to three years in prison, will be sentenced on Sept. 8.
In 2021, Nguyen’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against Kim and Meeker. The defendants’ insurance companies agreed to pay the family a total of $2 million; however, it was reported that more than half of that sum was used to reimburse Medicaid, which spent more than a year caring for Nguyen in a nursing home.