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Las Vegas heart surgeon charged by Iowa board with incompetence

Updated May 12, 2023 - 6:59 pm

An Iowa medical licensing board has charged a Las Vegas heart surgeon with professional incompetence and harmful and misleading practices.

The Iowa Board of Medicine accuses Dr. Giovanni Ciuffo, who previously practiced in Sioux City, of “professional incompetency,” “engaging in a practice that is harmful or detrimental to the public” and of “knowingly making misleading, deceptive, untrue or fraudulent representations in the practice of medicine and surgery,” according to the board’s statement of charges filed in April.

Nevada Heart & Vascular Center announced in November that Ciuffo, a cardiothoracic surgeon, had joined its practice. Neither Ciuffo nor the center responded to requests for comment.

The Iowa board has not made details of the charges public.

The charges come on the heels of numerous allegations of misconduct contained in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed in 2022 by the former cardiovascular service line director for MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center, where Ciuffo had been the director of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.

Ciuffo was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed by registered nurse Cynthia Tenner alleged that she was retaliated against after reporting concerns about malpractice to her supervisor.

She complained that Ciuffo failed to follow surgical procedure, performed “unsafe add-on procedures,” and inappropriately extended lifespans of patients by keeping them on life support to improve surgical outcome statistics, according to an order by a federal judge in the case.

Ciuffo issued a statement in May 2022 that described the claims as “outrageous and completely false,” the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported at the time. MercyOne told the publication that it stood by its cardiac services program and was committed to quality care.

The lawsuit alleged that in retaliation for her complaints, Tenner was suspended on the grounds of having created a “toxic work environment” and then was fired.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in July 2022 as outside the federal court’s jurisdiction.

Tenner filed a lawsuit in state court that is scheduled to go to trial in February of next year, the Iowa publication has reported.

Ciuffo has been licensed to practice medicine in Nevada since May 2022. The Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, which licensed the surgeon, did not respond to requests for comment.

Ciuffo attended medical school at Cagliari University in Italy. He is board certified with the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery, according to Nevada Heart & Vascular’s website. He is licensed in multiple states, it says.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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