Doctor accused of maiming patients surrenders license for life

Lawrence Rothstein, the surgeon accused of harming several patients during an experimental spine surgery, has surrendered his Ohio medical license for life.

Rothstein gave up his license effective April 12. In July, the State Medical Board of Ohio found that he “inappropriately” used laser endoscopic technique, performed procedures that were not “medical indicated” and failed to provide appropriate follow-up care in the cases of 12 patients.

One of those patients is Sally Clawson, 63, of Springfield, who suffered a drug overdose after her surgery that left her with severe brain damage. A Montgomery County Common Pleas Jury awarded Clawson’s family a $5 million judgment in 2009, though the family is still fighting to collect the money.

Rothstein, who closed up his Dayton operations soon after a July 2010 Dayton Daily News investigation, was not available for comment. His most recent address, according to the medical board, is in Dallas.

“It’s a shame that so many lives have been destroyed by this,” said Melissa Clawson, Sally’s daughter-in-law. She declined to comment further on Rothstein, due to pending litigation against him, but added “Sally’s care is going to continue to be a burden.”

By 2010, there were more than 20 lawsuits filed against Rothstein in Ohio courts, most of them in Montgomery County. Rothstein had settled at least three cases and lost two jury trials before he filed for bankruptcy on June 29, 2010. That filing caused the other cases to be stayed, and the bankruptcy case is still pending.

The laser surgery, called AccuraScope, had been marketed across the country, and patients came to Dayton to have the surgery from across the country and Canada. Plaintiffs against Rothstein had come from Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Saskatchewan.

The plaintiffs complained about nerve damage, pain, weakness, numbness, paralysis and incontinence, according to court records.

In Clawson’s case, the damage was worse. A widow who still worked, owned a house and had an active social life, Clawson was left with limited speech and no short-term memory. Her family committed her to an assisted living facility earlier this year.

Clawson’s first surgery, in January 2007, left her with severe pain so Rothstein operated again two months later. After that procedure, she complained of pain, so Rothstein prescribed 20 mg of morphine in the first 60 minutes, then 20 mg of Valium, a mix that can create a high risk for respiratory problems, Clawson’s attorney Jay Kelley told the Dayton Daily News in 2010.

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