Surgeon's competence claimed to be the issue

In challenging the arbitration award of $4.7 million to a surgeon whose privileges were restricted, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles alleges that the doctor's competence was in doubt.

"The arbitrator found that Dr. Shahinian's competence was an issue," says a statement the hospital provided to Healthcare Risk Management after a court of appeals found in favor of the surgeon. "However, she refused to decide one way or the other whether the concerns that Cedars-Sinai harbored about Dr. Shahinian's competence were justified. Thus, she did not vindicate Dr. Shahinian on the question of competence — she did not decide the issue. But she did bar Dr. Shahinian from reapplying to Cedars-Sinai's medical staff until 2016."

The arbitrator found that parts of Shahinian's testimony lacked credibility, the hospital notes. "Her finding of lack of credibility is consistent with another recent judicial finding. Last year, in a case having nothing whatever to do with Cedars-Sinai (Dr. Shahinian had already left the Center and was practicing elsewhere), a Los Angeles Superior Court judge found against Dr. Shahinian for both professional negligence and fraud," the statement says. "It awarded over $950,000 against him, including $300,000 in punitive damages. Among other things, the judge found that Dr. Shahinian was negligent in performing a surgery; that he had falsely represented to his patient that the surgery had a 98% rate of success; that, in a 'failed attempt at subterfuge' Dr. Shahinian caused an altered pathology report to be sent to the plaintiffs in willful and conscious disregard for plaintiff's health and safety; and that he engaged in 'trickery' and 'was more interested in marketing than medicine as it relates to these plaintiffs.'"

The hospital also notes that "The arbitrator rejected Dr. Shahinian's allegations that Cedars-Sinai 'failed to adequately clean or sterilize instruments' and that Cedars-Sinai failed to supply non-custom instruments. The arbitrator found that Dr. Shahinian failed to live up to his obligation to provide sufficient custom instruments."