A Pasco County surgical center at the properly-identified Bonati Spine Institute has been shut down soon after Florida overall health care regulators suspended the center’s license.

Regulators alleged instant danger to individuals simply because a “certified surgical technologist” had performed several procedures even even though he wasn’t licensed as a medical doctor.

The Hudson surgical center knowingly permitted the unnamed employee to conduct such procedures on individuals with out getting licensed as a overall health care qualified by the Florida Division of Wellness — and regardless of other employees members raising issues about his actions, according to a 13-web page emergency suspension order filed Wednesday by the Agency for Wellness Care Administration, or AHCA.

The for-profit ambulatory surgical center, named the Healthcare Improvement Corporation of Pasco County, has 3 operating rooms and 5 recovery beds, according to the Agency for Wellness Care Administration. The agency fined the center $1,000 final year soon after facility leadership took no apparent methods to alert the state overall health division to a COVID-19 outbreak in which seven workers have been infected, state records show.

The surgical center was incorporated in 1983, according to state small business records. It shares an address with the Gulf Coast Orthopedic Center, typically identified as the Bonati Spine Institute, according to state overall health division records. The Bonati Spine Institute’s web page says it pioneered the use of laser spine surgery.

Dr. Alfred O. Bonati, 83, a surgeon, is the administrator of each Gulf Coast Orthopedic Center and the Healthcare Improvement Corporation of Pasco County, according to the Agency for Wellness Care Administration. Bonati, founder of the Bonati Spine Institute, has been licensed as a Florida medical doctor given that 1981, according to the state overall health division.

The exterior of the the Bonati Spine Institute is seen Friday, March 17, 2023 in Hudson. The exterior of the the Bonati Spine Institute is noticed Friday, March 17, 2023 in Hudson. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

The challenges at the surgery center “span probably years,” according to the emergency order. The center also “failed or refused” to give some patients’ health-related records to Florida regulators, the order stated, so the state couldn’t assess their surgical outcomes.

The center “knew or need to have identified of alleged unlicensed surgical practice,” the order says, “but has demonstrated no action to even investigate the repeated allegations.”

The order, which took impact at five p.m. Wednesday, described the failures as “operational and management method deficiencies” that endangered “the overall health, security and welfare” of the center’s individuals.

Lawyers for the Healthcare Improvement Corporation of Pasco County late Thursday requested that Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal keep the emergency order. They stated the order shuts down the small business “with practically one hundred workers losing their jobs.” In a separate filing, they also urged the court to quash the order.

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The attorneys stated the emergency order “does not sufficiently allege that any future harm will happen.”

“We vehemently disagree with AHCA’s contentions,” stated Scott J. Flint, a St. Petersburg lawyer representing the small business. “We appear forward to vindicating Healthcare Improvement Corporation and its workers in court. Other than that, we will not be commenting on any ongoing litigation.”

Bonati could not be reached for comment. Flint stated the medical doctor would not comment.

Complaints against Bonati

The state overall health division has so far filed two complaints against Bonati this year alleging health-related malpractice associated to back surgeries. A single complaint stated Bonati performed six surgeries on a patient “without proof of improvement.” The other stated he performed several surgeries on a patient more than a roughly 3-month span with out attempting significantly less invasive therapy.

Flint, the lawyer, declined to comment on the complaints. The state overall health division confirmed the situations are ongoing.

Bonati has faced several disciplinary situations more than the final two decades, according to a Tampa Bay Instances short article and state overall health division records.

Associated: Physician faces scrutiny once again

In 2010, an arbitration panel awarded practically $12 million to a couple who claimed unnecessary operations at the spine institute left the husband unable to stroll, the Tampa Bay Instances reported.

In 2013, an arbitration panel ordered Bonati to spend $two million to a lady who alleged in a lawsuit that the medical doctor subjected her to unnecessary tests and performed 5 unnecessary surgeries, the newspaper reported.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel discovered in a 2017 investigation that the state had brought 24 disciplinary situations against Bonati given that 1992 — much more than any other medical doctor practicing in Florida at that time.

Associated: Hudson surgeon is sued once again

Newest inspection

The Bonati Spine Institute’s web page says it has performed much more than 75,000 profitable procedures more than 35 years and has a patient satisfaction price of more than 98%.

Through an inspection that began final week at the Healthcare Improvement Corporation of Pasco County, a state regulator saw a employees member — whom the ambulatory surgical center described as a “certified surgical technologist” — close a wound soon after a patient underwent a spinal process, according to the Agency for Wellness Care Administration’s emergency order. No doctor was in the surgical suite, the order says.

A couple of days later, a regulator witnessed the employee treat a further patient’s surgical wound, with out a medical doctor present, following a spinal process, according to the order.

The center’s threat manager indicated that the employee also “performed an complete spinal surgery on a patient in the current previous,” according to the order.

The threat manager stated he told the employee he wasn’t a licensed doctor and couldn’t execute surgical procedures, the order says. In response, the unlicensed employees member argued that he was performing procedures “under the surgeon’s license,” according to the order.

The order says the employees member performed surgical procedures for many years even when admonished several occasions by the threat manager not to do so.

At least after, the surgical technologist stated the center’s surgeon was “no longer capable to execute these procedures due to the physician’s age and overall health status,” according to the order from state regulators.

The surgeon, who is unnamed in the order, dismissed the threat manager’s issues and refused to take action, the order says.

The threat manager also told the center’s health-related director about the unlicensed activity on at least eight occasions and brought issues to the center’s legal counsel final year, according to the order, but the challenges went unaddressed.

A registered nurse, who was previously the center’s operating space director, told the surgeon about the unlicensed employee’s actions, as well, and at least two employees members resigned soon after nothing at all was performed to address the scenario, according to the order.

In court papers, attorneys for the small business proposed that the 1st District Court of Appeal challenge an order stopping the “certified surgery technologist” and all other workers from “performing something outdoors the scope of their respective certifications or licensure,” alternatively of shutting down surgeries.

But state regulators stated in the emergency order that the surgery center’s threat management and excellent manage processes, “if functional at all,” have not been helpful or implemented.

“If the Agency does not act,” the order says, “it is probably that the (center’s) conduct will continue.”

Instances employees writers Chris Urso and Veronica Gonzalez contributed to this report.

By Editor