My workers’ comp doctor has suggested fusion surgery. Can this be risky?

Dr. Aria Sabit is a 36-year-old neurosurgeon who had the benefit of a seven-year residency, the final year of which he spent as a chief resident. He also currently has 17 malpractice lawsuits against him; all the suits deal with surgeries Sabit performed in exactly as many months from the middle of 2009 to the end of 2010.

Sabit now practices in eastern Michigan, but the allegations against him originate in Ventura, California, where he started operating in July 2009. Fresh off of his neurosurgery residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, Sabit was partnered with Dr. Moustapha Abou-Samra, a reputable neurosurgeon. According to Sabit, he began to perform some of the most difficult operations at the hospital and earned a reputation as a ‘go-to physician’ as a result. By December 2010, Sabit was fired by Ventura County Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group, according to a lawsuit filed by him against the group. The lawsuit was later withdrawn.

Ventura internist Dr. Jack Padour says, “He was introduced as the next generation of neurosurgery. We thought, ‘Great, we need a guy like that.'” Two of Padour’s patients are among those who filed suit against Sabit. All 17 lawsuits were filed individually by patients after Dr. Sabit stopped practicing in Ventura. They allege that he performed spinal fusions — an operation that utilizes metal rods and screws to anchor the spine in place while bone grafts are used to generate bone growth to fuse vertebra– in which hardware was misplaced, screws pulled out of bone, there was too much hardware used, some surgeries were simply unnecessary, or postoperative infections resulted.

Some patients, such as Olivia Sawyer, experienced extreme pain and had to have procedures redone completely. Sawyer, a 53-year-old resident of Santa Paula, California, had a follow-up surgery to remove improperly-placed and crooked spinal rods. The USC doctor that worked on  her had to remove everything Sabin had previously installed. Sawyer would have been among the number that filed suit, but she was informed that a one-year statute of limitations had already passed.

In Sabit’s withdrawn lawsuit against his former medical group, he took issue with the allegations of both his rates of complications and surgeries being high; he also claimed that the group generated untrue criticism against him. Both Community Memorial Hospital and a leader of the Ventura County Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group are targeted in some of the patient lawsuits and say they can’t discuss the cases, though they did defend themselves against accusations that they waited too long to discharge Sabit. In addition, officials at Community Memorial cite the fact that they were the party responsible for initiating action against Dr. Sabit by the California Medical Board. Duke DeHaas, Sabit’s lawyer, says allegations of unnecessary procedures and poor technique are common in malpractice cases.

According to DeHaas, “That’s what they allege in these lawsuits. It doesn’t mean it’s meritorious. You can allege anything you want. That’s why we have trials.” Contact my Atlanta workers compensation law firm.

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