A cosmetic surgeon whose registration was cancelled by the Medical Board of Australia – after he allegedly botched two tummy-tuck surgeries and put patients’ lives at risk – has been allowed to continue working, pending a further hearing.
The doctor successfully argued that an outright suspension would bankrupt him, saying that he relies on earnings of $100,000 a month to get by.
Dr Mikhail Soutorine had his license suspended by the board on November 7 following complaints from two patients who had undergone abdominoplasties (commonly known as tummy tucks) that allegedly resulted in complications and poor aesthetic outcomes. One of the patients had also undergone liposuction.
Doctor asked for second opinion
There was also a complaint from a cosmetic surgeon who’d been consulted for a second opinion by one of the patients following the surgery.
Dr Soutorine is based in Melbourne, but the two surgeries took place in Western Australia on a fly-in/fly-out basis.
According to a judgement from the WA State Administrative Tribunal (the body that heard the doctor’s appeal) the Medical Board alleged as follows:
- Dr Soutorine failed to exclude the presence of hernias in the abdominal wall of the patient before booking and proceeding with the abdominoplasty and liposuction procedures.
- Dr Soutorine used unsafe intraoperative sedation – in particular he administered a sedative agent, midazalom, in the absence of an anaesthetist and any equipment for monitoring the condition of the patients while sedated.
- Dr Soutorine operated on one patient late at night and into the early hours of the next morning.
- Dr Soutorine discharged the patients just one hour after completion of the surgical procedures and this period of post-procedure observation was inadequate and “could only be described as a very dangerous practice”.
- Dr Soutorine’s post-operative care was inadequate.
- Dr Soutorine performed the procedures in a manner that was unorthodox – the patients had a ‘very poor aesthetic outcome’.
In contesting the appeal, the Board also relied on the existence of two notifications. One concerned a threadlift procedure (a less invasive form of facelift) carried out on a patient in Victoria.
A variety of disputed claims were heard
The second concerned a complaint referred to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) by the Health Complaints Commissioner of Victoria relating to a liposuction procedure undertaken in July 2019.
In the latter notification the patient had specific concerns about Dr Soutorine’s alleged failure to keep patient records.
The Board contended there were discrepancies in Dr Soutorine’s description of his professional history and memberships of professional bodies.
There was also a dispute about whether Dr Soutorine had attempted to contact one of the patients – the patient maintained he had done so. Dr Soutorine admitted to dialling the patient’s mobile telephone number by mistake but says he terminated the connection when he realised the mistake and did not speak to the patient.
Dr Soutorine’s website is “under construction” – but according to healthpages.wiki, he “pioneered new surgical techniques in minimally invasive non-surgical cosmetic procedures.”
The doctor pledged to use anaesthetic in future
Whilst maintaining his strong denials of the allegations made against him Dr Soutorine volunteered undertakings which he submitted were sufficient to protect public health or safety from the risk identified by the Board.
These included undertaking not to conduct any abdominoplasty procedures within any medical facility of a lower standard than a Day Hospital Class B facility and without the use of sedation/general anaesthetic; an undertaking not to commence any surgical procedure on any patient after 6.00 pm; and undertaking to remain in Western Australia for a minimum of 48 hours following the completion of any surgical procedure undertaken in the State.
The Board rejected these undertakings and took away his license.
However, Justice Paul Allan Tottle of the WA State Administrative Tribunal ruled that: “Suspending Dr Soutorine’s registration is a draconian step and I accept that it has the capacity to cause severe financial hardship to him.”
Dr Soutorine can continue working under the supervision of the Medical Board and the AHPRA pending a final hearing. However, he is prohibited from carrying out any procedures that involve the use of a scalpel, stitches, cutting or piercing of the skin with any instrument other than a needle.
He is allowed to carry out dermal therapy as well as cosmetic procedures, such as dermal fillers and threadlifting.
In supporting its decision, the tribunal judgement ruled:
“The scrutiny and the ongoing investigations into his conduct and performance will provide a very strong incentive … to ensure that he complies strictly with the terms of his undertaking.”