A 43-year-old Westminster orthopedic surgeon, accused by the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance of being "grossly negligent and incompetent," has voluntarily surrendered his license to practice medicine.
Anthony C. P. Shen gave up his license on July 24 after being accused by the medical board of negligence and incompetence in five cases, including back surgery he performed in 1982 at Westminster Community Hospital in which he removed the wrong disk. In addition, Shen has been sued several times by patients who claimed that he is incompetent; one of those suits alleges that he put a woman's artificial knee in backward.
Westminster Community Hospital is now known as Humana Hospital, Westminster.
In voluntarily giving up his license and the right to practice medicine in California, Shen disputed several of the board's accusations, including allegations that he had falsely claimed to be a board-certified surgeon, that he had tried to cover up an operative error and that he had performed surgery on a woman's knee incompetently.
Citing confidential peer review procedures, hospital spokesmen declined comment on Shen's competence.
Stuart Bramer, Humana's associate executive director, acknowledged that Shen worked at the hospital for about 10 years and said he resigned voluntarily in July, 1986.
In the five cases documented by the Board of Medical Quality Assurance from 1977 to 1982, Shen is accused of operating incompetently and later attempting to cover up his errors with false reports.
In addition, the medical board alleged that in September, 1981, when Shen applied for staff privileges at the Medical Center of Garden Grove, Shen represented that he was certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery in his specialty when in fact he had never been certified by the prestigious board.
Medical board investigator Frank Heckl, who investigated Shen after complaints from some patients and at least one hospital, said: "He had a very good practice. He was probably a good orthopedic surgeon. But he did some things very bad."
In a procedure that board official Linda McCready likened to a plea bargain, Shen agreed to waive his right to a hearing on the accusations. According to the stipulation between Shen and the board, the accusations are not considered formal findings of guilt. Should Shen ever reapply for a license to practice medicine in California, all but the disputed allegations would "be deemed admitted by him as true" and at that time he would be deemed "guilty of unprofessional conduct," the stipulation said.
Shen is also a defendant, along with Westminster Community Hospital, in a lawsuit filed by Westminster Community's former chief physical therapist, Donna Burgard. She claims she was fired without cause when she noticed Shen performing what she believed to be unnecessary surgery and advised some of his patients to get a second opinion.
In an interview, Burgard said she was fired because "I didn't go along with the cover-up" by Shen and the hospital.
Shen and his attorney, Yvonne Chen, who is also the secretary and chief financial officer of his medical practice, Hospital Circle Medical Group, declined to respond to repeated requests for an interview over the last week.
In court papers answering the allegations in Burgard's lawsuit, Shen, the hospital and its parent corporation, Humana Inc. of Lexington, Ky., said the suit has no merit. They said that Burgard's claim of a conspiracy is false and that there is no proof that Shen did unnecessary or incompetent surgery. Also in legal papers, Shen claimed that Burgard was fired after she disobeyed a direct order from him "to refrain from giving patients advice regarding surgery." Mark Robbins, an attorney for Humana, said, "We vigorously dispute and deny Ms. Burgard's allegations, but Humana's policy is not to discuss employment matters due to employee safety and policy."