MINEOLA, NY. (CN) – A woman claims she was used as “a human research subject” in an experimental spinal cord surgery featured on the TV program “Medical Mysteries.” She sued four doctors and three medical centers – but not the TV show – in Nassau County Court.
Kristy Pirozzolo says she suffers from fainting episodes caused by an autonomic disorder that she was diagnosed with in 2003. She says she sought treatment after watching a “Medical Mysteries” episode about Chiari malformation, in which brain tissue protrudes into the spinal canal. Pirozzolo claims the show prominently featured The Chiari Institute (TCI), a defendant.
She claims the Institute falsely advertises on its Web site that it had received a $17.5 million grant from in National Institute of Health. But “The NIH grant advertised on TCI’s website does not exist,” according to the complaint.
She claims the site also features a video about tethered cord syndrome, which she says does not warn viewers that “there are no scientific studies or medical literature” supporting the defendant’s statements about the disease.
She claims the video advised a testing method developed by Dr. Paolo Bolognese, a defendant, who she says failed to disclose that he is not licensed to practice medicine in New York.
After she was tested through this method, Pirozzolo says, the doctors diagnosed her with Chiari malformation and advised that she undergo surgery for tethered cord syndrome. She claims that they never told her that the procedure was “experimental” and “a highly controversial subject in the field of neurosurgery.”
After the operation failed, she says, defendant Dr. Thomas Milhorat and Dr. Bolognese, who assisted, told her mother that her daughter would need additional surgery because she had one of the “worst cases of tethered cord” they had ever seen.
Pirozzolo says she found out about the experimental nature of her surgery from a video of one of Dr. Bolognese’s lectures that she discovered on the Internet.
Since the operations, she says she has suffered debilitating back pain in the surgical area, worsening headaches, severe neck pain and an aggravating of her original condition.
She sued The Chiari Institute, the North Shore – Long Island Jewish Health System, the Harvey Cushing Institutes of Neuroscience, Dr. Milhorat, Dr. Bolognese, Dr. Chanland Roonprapunt and Dr. Misao Nishikawa, alleging medical malpractice and fraud. She seeks $10 million in punitive damages.
She is represented by Lee Goldsmith with Goldsmith Ctorides & Rodriguez.