VA Malpractice Lawsuit Results in $4.34M Verdict Over Spine Surgery Foam

A 66-year old California man who is now confined to a wheelchair as a result of spinal surgery errors involving the use of Surgifoam at the Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in West Los Angeles, was awarded $4.34 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

U.S. District Court Judge Gary Allen Feess ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Alvin Johnson, in a complaint brought against the government over the actions of two VA surgeons, Antonio DeSalle and Donald Shields, who performed the October 2005 spine surgery.

According to the VA medical malpractice lawsuit, Johnson went to the VA medical center to have surgery on a ruptured disc in his back. During the surgery, the lawsuit alleges that DeSalle and Shields injected him with Surgifoam, which is used to absorb excess fluids in the area of the surgery. Some of the foam, which should have been removed, was left in Johnson’s back and expanded, pressing against his spinal cord. This resulted in permanent spinal damage that now requires Johnson to use a wheelchair.

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Judge Feess said in his verdict that DeSalle and Shields were told by another doctor who took an MRI of Johnson’s back that his spine was compressed. However, Judge Feess said, the two doctors took no action to correct the problem.

The government was found liable for Johnson’s botched spine surgery, and he was awarded $4.34 million in damages. According to a report by Courthouse News Service, Johnson now depends on others for daily car and only has limited control of his arms and legs.


  • MarkMay 15, 2014 at 3:39 am

    I had a laminectomy at the VA which now makes it impossible for me to hold my head up.

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