Boise VA Medical Center

The Boise VA Medical Center.

BOISE — A Boise veteran is suing the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs over claims of negligence and medical malpractice at the Boise VA Medical Center after an “unnecessary” and “unwarranted” surgical procedure left him in excessive numbness and pain, according to court documents.

Dustin Isaac, a 13-year military veteran and Boise resident, is moving forward with a lawsuit against the federal department seeking $2.5 million in damages — including continued medical care and payment of attorney fees — after the department’s June denial of a tort claim filed in September 2017.

According to court documents, Isaac suffered combat injuries during a tour in Iraq in 2010. Continued pain and numbness in his back and left leg led him to seek initial medical care at the Boise VA Medical Center in 2012.

After initially deciding to treat the injury with physical therapy, Isaac returned to the Boise VA Medical Center and other spinal doctors in 2014 after a work accident made his symptoms worse.

Over the course of 2012 to 2015, according to court documents, Isaac saw Dr. Samuel Jorgenson at the Boise VA Medical Center and private-practice doctors for multiple spinal consultations and MRIs. During a visit on June 9, 2015, Jorgenson suggested proceeding with spinal laminectomy and fusion surgery, which he performed on Sept. 11, 2015.

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Jorgenson, an orthopedic surgeon at the Spine Institute of Idaho in Meridian, is affiliated with multiple hospitals, including Boise VA Medical Center. Although his medical treatment is cited within the lawsuit, he is not a defendant in the case. Jennifer Harris, administrator at the Spine Institute of Idaho, said neither the institute nor Dr. Jorgenson knew of the lawsuit.

Isaac alleges that following the surgery, he experienced loss of sensory and motor functions, worsened numbness in his leg and constant nerve pain that “ebbs and flows in intensity,” court documents say, and has sustained “significant permanent bodily injuries, physical and mental pain and suffering.”

The lawsuit claims that none of Isaac’s medical records indicates a need for the surgery and states “the surgery was unnecessary and unwarranted” and that Jorgenson failed to notify Isaac that “the surgery was contraindicated by the studies and posed an increased risk of worsening his condition,” inhibiting his ability to make an informed decision whether to undergo the surgery.

Online reviews posted on doctor rating websites show multiple complaints posted as far back as 2011 detailing incorrect and ineffectual spinal surgeries performed by Jorgenson that required repair.

Riley Bunch is the night reporter for the Idaho Press. Reach her at 208-465-8169 or follow @rbunchIPT on Twitter.

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