The prestigious Cedars-Sinai Hospital has been at the center of two high-profile safety problems since 2007. One incident involved actor Dennis Quaid’s twins, who were accidentally given 1,000 times the intended dose of blood thinner in 2007. The newborns nearly died, but luckily survived after spending 12 days in the hospital receiving an antidote, which helped their blood coagulate. The second incident occurred last fall, when federal authorities launched an investigation into patient radiation overdoses from CT scans. In fact, 260 patients received up to eight times the normal radiation because the hospital staff misunderstood a default setting on the CT machine.
Dr. Hrayr Shahinian used to be a surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Hospital until a surgery went awry in 2005. Specifically, after doctors in Florida failed to remove a deep-seated brain tumor, Marc Kotolnick traveled to Los Angeles to see Dr. Shahinian, who was an emerging “star” in the field of minimally invasive surgery at the time. Dr. Shahinian attempted to remove Kotolnick’s tumor by drilling a hole into the man’s skull and lacing an endoscope into his brain. However, a small pair of forceps ultimately failed and Dr. Shahinian aborted the procedure because he had no other forceps available on hand. That May 2005 incident resulted in a lawsuit, but Dr. Shahinian argues that the incident would’ve never occurred if Cedars-Sinai had properly provided him with more surgical tools. As a result, Dr. Shahinian filed a lawsuit against the hospital, contending that the hospital endangered patient safety by failing to provide enough surgical tools.
Consequently, an arbitrator in Shahinian’s case ruled that the hospital had to pay him $4.7 million, including $2.6 million in punitive damages. But the fight isn’t over yet—Cedars-Sinai indicated in legal filings last month that it will challenge the decision at the state Court of Appeals. Nevertheless, in an interview, Dr. Shahinian argued that more than 100 surgeries were affected because of instrument problems. Furthermore, he also alleges that the hospital retaliated against him further by providing even fewer surgical tools when he complained that inadequate sterilization procedures left bits of brain matter on the surgical instruments. Dr. Shahinian now works at Thousand Oaks Hospital after leaving Cedars-Sinai in 2006.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.