Former St. Luke's neurosurgeon resigns from Texas practiceDr. Stefan Konasiewicz, the former Duluth neurosurgeon who was disciplined by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice in 2010, has resigned from his practice in Texas, Corpus Christi television station KRIS-TV reported Friday.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
Dr. Stefan Konasiewicz, the former Duluth neurosurgeon who was disciplined by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice in 2010, has resigned from his practice in Texas, Corpus Christi television station KRIS-TV reported Friday.
Three days after the News Tribune published a story headlined “Some of Konasiewicz’s Texas patients claim harm” and KRIS ran a similar report, the South Texas Brain and Spine Center removed the doctor’s name from its building.
Two current patients also contacted the TV station’s newsroom saying that Konasiewicz had abruptly resigned, Steven Romo of KRIS reported. Romo said South Texas Brain and Spine Center office manager Mary Jane Covarrubiaz confirmed Friday afternoon that Konasiewicz had resigned but did not say when his employment ended.
Covarrubiaz told Romo that Konasiewicz is relocating, but indicated that he had not yet shared his moving plans with the center.
“As soon as I know where he’s going, we will announce it in the paper,” Covarrubiaz said.
Calls to McKibben, Woolsey and Villarreal, the law firm representing the medical center, were not returned Friday afternoon, Romo said.
Konasiewicz and St. Luke’s hospital in Duluth, where the neurosurgeon practiced from 1997 to 2008, have been sued for malpractice at least nine times. One case involved a woman who died soon after surgery by Konasiewicz, and another was a woman who was left a quadriplegic after surgery. The News Tribune has found that six of those cases were settled for at least $3.2 million.
Deputy St. Louis County Medical Examiner Dr. Donald Kundel was so concerned about the patient care provided by Konasiewicz that he wrote a letter to the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice in 2008 requesting an investigation to determine “if Dr. Konasiewicz is incompetent or reckless.”
In 2010, the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice disciplined Konasiewicz for what it deemed as “unprofessional and unethical conduct,” and ordered him to have some of his surgeries supervised by another neurosurgeon to continue to practice in the state.
However, the Texas Medical Board has taken no such action, meaning his license is not restricted and he does not need to have his work supervised in Texas.
Corpus Christi resident Linda Cavazos is one of 11 people the News Tribune has spoken with who allege they or their loved ones experienced negative outcomes after being treated in Texas by Konasiewicz. On Friday, she expressed relief at news of the neurosurgeon’s resignation.
“This is good news,” she said.
Shawn Raiter, an attorney who is representing Konasiewicz in a current malpractice case, told the News Tribune on Friday he is not aware of any resignation in Texas. He said he has spoken recently with his client but doesn’t know of any change in his practice in Corpus Christi. Raiter was in court in Duluth on Thursday arguing against a new trial for a Proctor-area farmer whose negligence claim against Konasiewicz was rejected by a Washington County District Court jury this summer.
Before news of Konasiewicz’s resignation on Friday, an attorney representing the South Texas Brain and Spine Institute praised Konasiewicz in a statement for being a “caring and competent neurosurgeon who provides excellent care.”
“There are many people alive today who live a better life because of the medical care and treatment that Dr. Konasiewicz has provided to them,” attorney Roxanna Perez Stevens said in a prepared statement in August. “The South Texas Brain and Spine Center takes its patients’ healthcare very seriously and continues to provide its patients with the utmost quality and highest standards in healthcare using the most effective and modern technologies available.”
A St. Luke’s spokeswoman did not return a call for comment on Friday.