DOJ: South Dakota Neurosurgeon Performed Unnecessary Service

neurosurgeon malpractice

Dr. Wilson Asfora made millions of dollars performing unnecessary surgeries, including one that paralyzed a man, according to federal prosecutors at the Department of Justice.

The criminal allegations come in the wake of a $20 million settlement in a related whistle blower action. According to court documents, Dr. Asfora routinely performed “excessive” and “quite aggressive” procedures which were “against conventional neurosurgical teaching and practice.”

In the paralysis surgery, Dr. Asfora allegedly employed “an extremely lengthy complex procedure when a shorter procedure could have been used.” His attorney “strongly” denied the allegations.

These allegations also included charges that Dr. Asfora used medical devices that he invented, yet he failed to advise patients of his financial interests.

Everyday Medical Malpractice

These allegations are an extreme form of physician misconduct. Yet basically the same thing happens every day in hospitals and clinics across the country. Greed is usually the common denominator.

Physicians are under extreme pressure to see as many patients as possible. Therefore, doctor-patient interaction is largely gone.

Some doctors are in too much of a hurry to see their next patient. In fact, doctors listen to their patients for about eleven seconds before they redirect or interrupt them.

During that brief exchange, it’s almost impossible for doctors to learn anything meaningful about their patients’ medical problems. This lack of information leads to misdiagnosis of conditions like:

  • Heart Disease: Some heart attack patients, mostly women, do not suffer signature heart attack symptoms, like chest pains. As a result, doctors often fail to diagnose heart disease, especially in patients with no apparent risk factors.
  • Cancer: These same mistakes make cancer one of the most commonly-misdiagnosed conditions in New York. To many doctors, cancer is a genetic or lifestyle disease. Children with no family history never contract cancer, nonsmokers never get lung cancer, and so on.
  • Depression: There is a difference between situational depression and clinical depression. Situational depression, perhaps due to the death of a loved one, usually passes. Clinical depression, however, is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Some doctors do not take the time to tell the difference.
  • Fibromyalgia: Doctors often confuse this general pain condition with things like arthritis. But the treatments which work for arthritis patients do nothing for fibromyalgia patients.

Compounding this issue, some doctors do not perform a full range of diagnostic tests. They are afraid the insurance company will not pay for them, and their practice will be financially responsible for the bill.

So, they just go with their gut. Confidence is a good trait for a physician, but overconfidence is not.

On a related note, some doctors run tests, but they over-rely on technicians and nurses to interpret the results. These professionals are well-qualified in many areas, but analyzing medical test results is usually not one of these areas.

Doctors have a very high duty of care in these situations. So, it is easier to obtain the compensation outlined below.

Medical Device Misuse

Generally, once the Food and Drug Administration approves a medical device, it is approved for all purposes and recommended for limited use.

To increase device sales, many manufacturers encourage experimental, off-label use.

The InFuse Bone Graft is a good example. Originally, the FDA approved this gadget, which makes it easier to move bone cells from one place to another, for limited use in specific back surgeries.

To sell more devices, Medtronic sponsored lavish seminars in exotic locations which trained doctors to use the gadget in dental procedures.

Perhaps not surprisingly, these seminars usually glossed over some of the dangers associated with such experimental dental surgery.

The same thing often happens with prescription drugs, and largely for the same reason. Drug companies spend billions of dollars to develop new products, and the patents usually only last seven years.

So, these manufacturers only have a few years to make up billions of dollars in costs and show a healthy profit. To increase sales, drug companies often encourage off-label use.

Viagra may be the best example of this phenomenon. Sildenafil was originally a cardiovascular/angina drug which was designed to improve the patient’s blood circulation.

The drug is now one of the most commonly-prescribed erectile dysfunction medications. Of course, not all medicine misuse has such a happy ending.

Damages in these medical malpractice cases usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.

Medical malpractice affects many patients in New York. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We handle medical malpractice cases on a nationwide basis.