Public Safety Lawsuit Filed over “Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery”

Dallas TX, April 24, 2013.  A lawsuit was filed in the 134th District Court of Dallas, Texas today against a major provider of “minimally invasive spine surgery.”  Attorney James E. Girards says “this lawsuit highlights the nationwide danger of ‘minimally invasive’ spine surgery centers. The public has a right to know the real dangers.”

BACKGROUND: “Minimally invasive spinal surgery” is all the rage lately and there are minimally invasive spine surgery clinics popping up all over the US.  But, the business model depends on these surgeries being done as outpatient surgeries because that eliminates the huge costs and low reimbursements related to overnight monitoring of patients during the post-op and recovery periods.  Many of these surgeries are complex surgeries that should not be done as outpatient surgeries because close monitoring by professionals is needed for 24-48 hours after these surgeries, including multi-level fusions with instrumentation, for example.  Nevertheless, these surgeries are being marketed as outpatient surgeries that are done with a tiny incision and the patients go home the same day. The public is being told it is safer to do it this way using cutting edge [and thus superior] techniques.  But, many of these patients are being sent home before some of the major life-threatening complications would be diagnosable.  For example, 6% to 10% will have life-threatening complications the first 24-hours after surgery.

Estate of Steven Johnson vs. Minimally Invasive Spine Institute of Dallas TX: 47-year old Steven Johnson was admitted for “minimally invasive” neck surgery to fuse 3 vertebrae in his neck and place a metal fixation plate. Johnson was sent home 3 hours after surgery was completed. Shortly after arriving home he became short of breath and collapsed.  He was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly thereafter.  The cause of death was bleeding inside his neck around the surgery site.  The blood squeezed his windpipe shut and he suffocated to death.  Lawsuit papers available at

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