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In a medical malpractice lawsuit, pro wrestler Hulk Hogan accuses a surgery clinic in Tampa of performing half a dozen operations that were deemed ineffective and unnecessary, and that actually made his back problems worse. The wrestler is seeking a total of $50 million.

The Laser Spine Institute touts itself as one of the world’s biggest outpatient spine centers, and according to its website, performs more than 400 surgeries per month and employs 450 people.

For a time, it portrayed the famous wrestler and media star in its promotional materials as a satisfied patient.

Up to 250,000 people in America each year sustain injuries as a result of medical malpractice, and nearly 100,000 people die.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the wrestler said in his lawsuit that he became aware that the surgeries he underwent at Laser Spine may have been either unnecessary or executed negligently after he read a 2011 Bloomberg News report that detailed numerous complaints that the care offered at the center is ineffective and expensive.

The Laser Spine Institute is among an increasing number of high-volume surgery centers that are doctor-owned, and that recruit their patients through direct-marketing campaigns online. The center, which advertises on both television and the Internet, recently began a national television advertising campaign with spots on cable news operator CNN.

The center promises patients a less-invasive and technologically advanced option to major back surgery.

In his lawsuit, Hogan says he was unaware that the institute doctor who recommended the surgery had a substantial ownership interest in the center. The wrestler’s health insurer was charged “multiple six figure sums” for the performed procedures.

The Institute was using Hogan as a success story in its marketing materials until the wrestler put a stop to it, saying he had not consented to have his name and likeness used that way.

The Laser Spine Institute has declined to publicly discuss Hogan’s allegations. It released a statement saying it “cares about its patients and their outcomes, and is proud to have helped thousands of patients achieve a better quality of life.”

From 2006 to 2009, the Institute produced a profit margin of 34.3 percent.

In Florida, medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a negligent act or omission by a health care provider. Negligence can include errors in a patient’s diagnosis, treatment or management of an illness.


Bloomberg Businessweek