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Continued: High-risk health providers stay in business thanks to state insurance

  • Article by: BRANDON STAHL , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 6, 2013 - 6:16 PM

Wasemiller could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Dan Krassin, said after losing his MJUA coverage, Wasemiller was able to find insurance through a California company, but couldn’t afford the rising premiums. Krassin said that didn’t make him a bad doctor.

Twelve years before he sought coverage from the MJUA, Pietrafitta, of Maple Grove Surgical Specialists, was ordered by the Minnesota medical board in 1998 to take a course in postoperative management. In its order, the board described three cases of patient harm and $1.2 million in malpractice payouts.

Pietrafitta completed the course, and the case was dismissed in 1999. He has since been sued at least three times. In a suit filed last year, Stefani Hemenway of Zimmerman claimed she lost the ability to use her right hand after Pietrafitta lacerated a median nerve in her wrist in what was supposed to be a routine surgery to relieve carpel tunnel pain. That case was settled.

In a lawsuit still pending, Pietrafitta, another physician at Maple Grove Surgical Specialists and a nursing assistant, are accused of contributing to the 2009 death of Dominic Osorio-Smith of Elk River.

According to the complaint, the three are accused of failing to clear out a bowel obstruction in Osorio-Smith before operating on him for a ruptured appendix. The obstruction caused Osorio-Smith, 23, to aspirate on the operating table.

The next day, neurosurgeons concluded that he was progressing toward brain death. His family decided to take him off a ventilator.

Pietrafitta did not respond to numerous calls for comment. In court filings in the suit by Osorio-Smith’s family, Pietrafitta and the other defendants denied wrongdoing.

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