Lap-Band death blamed on anesthesiologist
An anesthesiologist's "suboptimal" care caused a woman to die after recent weight-loss surgery at a Beverly Hills clinic connected to the 1-800-GET-THIN advertising campaign, according to an autopsy report by the Los Angeles County coroner.
The report does not identify the anesthesiologist, but lawyers for the clinic and the dead woman's family said it was Dr. Daniel Shin, a Marina del Rey physician. Shin was on probation with the state medical board at the time of the surgery because of his conviction for assaulting a process server with a meat cleaver, according to medical board records.
Tamara Walter died Dec. 26, three days after she had a Lap-Band device implanted at the Beverly Hills Surgery Center, a lawyer for her family said. She is one of four Southern California patients to die after Lap-Band surgeries in the last two years at clinics that received referrals from the 1-800-GET-THIN advertisements, according to interviews with relatives of the deceased patients, lawsuits and autopsy reports.
Shin did not respond to interview requests. Robert Silverman, an attorney who represents the surgery centers and the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing company, said in an email that Shin was unfairly blamed in the autopsy report. Silverman has previously said the other deaths were not the fault of the surgery centers, the doctors who performed the surgeries or the marketing firm.
Shin "has voluntarily taken a leave of absence," Silverman wrote in the email, and the surgery center "does not expect Dr. Shin to seek reinstatement of his privileges" to treat its patients.
Walter's sister Betty Brown said Walter would not have elected to have the surgery if she had known that her anesthesiologist was on probation from the medical board because of a conviction for a violent assault.
"I'm frustrated. I'm angry. It's unbelievable. Every time we turn around we find something else," Brown said. "What kind of operation are they? This just tells me they don't care about the people they hire; they just care about the money. They just roll people out like an assembly line."
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-- Stuart Pfeifer
Photo: Daniel Shin. Credit: Torrance Police Dept.