The spine and orthopedic news that drew readers' eyes in 2022


Here are some of the spine and orthopedic news that drew readers' attention in 2022:

SSM Health orthopedic surgeons exit: Multiple orthopedic surgons left SSM Health Dean Medical Group in Madison, Wis. Healthcare Outcomes Performance Company was chosen as the partner for the surgeons' planned independent practice. Surgeries and appointments at SSM Health were canceled weeks before they resigned, the Chippewa Herald reported Nov. 26. The surgeon group asked for patient continuity agreements, but results of the request weren't released.

2 more sentenced in Pacific Hospital bribery: A 69-year-old accountant who enabled a scheme allowing kickbacks for spine surgery referrals was sentenced to prison in June. In December, Neurosurgeon Lokesh Tantuwaya, MD, 55, was sentenced five years for taking about $3.3 million in bribes. Both were involved in a kickback scheme with the now-defunct Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, Calif.

Spine surgeon fatally shot at hosptial: Police in Tulsa, Okla., on June 2 said a spine surgeon was targeted and killed in a mass shooting at Saint Francis Health System. Preston Phillips, MD, was fatally shot in the June 1 attack that left five people dead and multiple people injured, police said. Dr. Phillips was remembered by Saint Francis Health System CEO Cliff Robertson, MD, for his dedication to his work and care for patients.

Tik Tok takes off for one spine surgeon: Chester Donnally, MD, is making a name for himself both inside the operating room and on social media after one of his TikTok videos racked up more than 1 million views in February. He built a significant presence on various social media platforms, including Instagram and LinkedIn, began making videos on TikTok in 2021 and has since accumulated more than 20,000 followers on TikTok alone. Dr. Donnally uses TikTok to explain spine procedures such as disc replacement, disc herniation, spinal stenosis and robotic spine surgery and provides an inside look into what life is like for a spine surgeon in the operating room.

Aetna settles artificial disc class-asction: Aetna Life Insurance reached a settlement to resolve a 239-person class action lawsuit over its coverage of lumbar artificial disc replacements in December. The settlement concludes a yearslong saga that began with a 2019 lawsuit alleging Aetna denied coverage for lumbar artificial disc replacements, violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Surgeons who pioneered total disc replacement in the U.S. say the move was "inevitable," and are awaiting Aetna's policy changes for the procedure.

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