A Colorado plastic surgeon whose staff administered seven times the necessary amount of anesthetic to a teenager undergoing a breast augmentation procedure, then waited five hours to get help when she stopped breathing, will spend just 15 days behind bars.
Dr. Geoffrey Kim, 54, was found guilty in June of attempted reckless manslaughter and obstructing telephone services for expressly prohibiting his staff to dial 911 for hours after Emmalyn Nguyen turned blue, went into cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma. The Arapahoe County District Court jury ultimately acquitted the doctor of the most serious charge against him – negligent homicide.
Kim was sentenced on Thursday, Nov. 16. After his 15 days in jail, per court records obtained by Fox News Digital, he will remain on probation for two years.
Kim must pay roughly $70,000 in fines and complete 120 hours of community service in a facility for those who have suffered brain injuries, per Arapahoe County Court records.
The Colorado Medical Board suspended Kim’s license indefinitely on Nov. 17; the board acknowledged the suspension in a Monday email to Fox News Digital, but would not comment further.
In August, the body allowed him to continue to practice provided he disclosed his conviction to prospective clients. Fox News Digital could not reach the medical board for comment at press time.
Nguyen, then an 18-year-old recent graduate of Mountain Range High School, saved up $6,000 herself for the procedure, which took place on Aug. 1, 2019, her mother told CBS News in December 2019, when her daughter was alive in a vegetative state. After a 14-month coma, Nguyen died in hospice care at the age of 19.
Although her heart was still beating, the family’s attorney David Woodruff previously told Fox News Digital, her brain had undergone severe damage from prolonged oxygen deprivation.
Nurses that worked with Kim at his Colorado Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery testified that they wanted to call for help when Nguyen’s heart stopped beating during her breast augmentation procedure – but after he resuscitated the girl with CPR, Kim told them not to.
“Not only does he not call 911 himself, but [Kim] tells every other staff member in the operating room that they cannot call 911 either,” prosecutor Kelsey Tipps said in her opening statements at trial, per the Canon City Daily Record.
Kim gave Nguyen’s mother repeated assurances that her daughter was all right as hours passed. Finally, after the woman demanded to see her daughter, emergency services were called.
When first responders arrived at his practice, Tipps told jurors, Kim told them that her cardiac arrest had just happened, further delaying proper medical care.
“The huge travesty here is the location of this office is in a parking lot shared by a fire department, and the EMTs could have been there in 45 seconds to a minute,” Woodruff said in court.
Rex Meeker, the former anesthetist at the Greenwood, Colorado, clinic, faced charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless manslaughter. Those charges were dismissed in September 2022, and Meeker would go on to testify against Kim.
“I told him we should send her to the hospital,” Meeker said on the stand, FOX 31 reported. “It’s standard operating procedure.”
Meeker reportedly saw Nguyen “turn blue,” per court documents.
Investigators later determined that Meeker had administered seven times the necessary amount of fentanyl to the teen, per court documents.
Nguyen reportedly went into cardiac arrest before Kim made his first incision, Fox News Digital previously reported.
The anesthetist would voluntarily surrender his license, per Colorado Medical Board documents – despite Kim’s “orders” to the contrary, the board said, Meeker was obligated to dial 911 when Nguyen stopped breathing.
Kim’s defense team argued in court that, regardless of how long emergency services were delayed, the amount of fentanyl Meeker administered would have been fatal.
“[Prosecutors] make a big deal about how this delay happened,” John Richilano, Kim’s attorney, said at the doctor’s criminal trial in June. “And it shouldn’t have been that long – full stop. But it was not consequential. It did not cause Emmalyn’s injury.”
Richilano said he did not know why Meeker administered the massive dose, per the Canon City Daily Record.
“But Mr. Meeker did it. All while Emmalyn was under his exclusive care, and Dr. Kim was down the hall, waiting for the patient to be ready for her surgery,” Richilano told jurors.
Fox News Digital could not immediately reach Richiliano or a representative for the Colorado Medical Board at press time.
Nguyen’s mother, Lynn Fam, declined to comment on Monday, saying that she was still “processing” her daughter’s death and Kim’s sentence.
Kim reportedly paid out $1 million to Nguyen’s family in an out-of-court settlement, per CBS News.