Laser Spine Institute will close its doors amid Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leaving several hundred employees without a job.
The Laser Spine Institute (LSI), which at one time had marketed itself as a “minimally invasive” spinal procedure center, has experienced financial issues and has abruptly ceased operations. The company, headquartered in Florida, had only four remaining surgery centers in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Scottsdale and Tampa, Florida. It once treated patients with neck and back pain caused by spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, pinched nerves, bone spurs, herniated discs, sciatica and other chronic, often debilitating conditions.
Despite “significant cost saving” recently, LSI announced it was “unable to attract the necessary financing” to continue operating while is was in the middle of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and now 600 employees are out of a job. The company said, it would “contact patients slated for surgery and those in post-operative care and refer them to other medical facilities in their area.”
“My heart goes out to our great, dedicated staff who have stuck with us through all of our adversity and worked so tirelessly to help us right the ship,” said Jake Brace, LSI’s CEO, who was hired in 2018 in an effort to restore the business.
Although it claimed to have 98% patient satisfaction rate, the company had been hit with dozens of malpractice lawsuits throughout its years in operation.
A competing surgery center also sued Laser Spine Institute at one point for offering illegal incentives to its patients, such as paying for their airfare and hotel expenses if they opted for LSI’s treatments instead, which is prohibited under Medicare guidelines. Nine surgeons reported LSI was doing spinal surgeries that were “often unnecessary or inappropriate.” Together, they sued the founders for “breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, defamation, slander and intentional interference,” and won the lawsuit, ultimately being awarded $264 million for their efforts.
In 2018, LSI was also ordered by a Pennsylvania court to pay $20 million in compensation to the estate of an Ohio woman who died shortly after undergoing surgery and being discharged from its Philadelphia center in 2014. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the matter.
In January 2013, famed professional wrestler Terry “Hulk Hogan” Boella sued LSI it for performing a series of what he claimed were ineffective procedures costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hogan sued the Tampa, Florida, location alleging he was “duped into undergoing multiple procedures on his damaged back.” The wrestler further claimed the “surgical treatment provided by the Defendants did not provide relief to [his] symptoms and resulted in a continuing worsening in his overall condition.” LSI billed Hogan and his health insurer “multiple six figure sums for these medically unneeded procedures,” the complaint stated. The wrestler reportedly settled his lawsuit out of court for $10 million.
“Laser Spine Institute cares about its patients and their outcomes and is proud to have helped thousands of patients achieve a better quality of life by delivering optimal surgical outcomes. Patient privacy is of upmost importance to Laser Spine Institute,” said the clinic responded at the time of Hogan’s settlement.