February 15, 2008
Mr. Rob Leach
Minnesota Board of Medical Practice
University Park Plaza
2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55414-3246
Dear Mr. Leach:
I am requesting an investigation into the medical practice of Dr. Stefan Konasiewicz.
On February 2, 2005, I performed an autopsy of (name redacted) a 25-year-old lady who suffered a perforated aorta during disk surgery at L3-4 level.
I have subsequently learned that Dr. Konasiewicz had previously perforated the abdominal aorta of another patient during disk surgery. This lady’s life was saved by prompt repair of the aortic defect by Dr. Brian Meyers.
Dr. Konasiewicz has, in addition, recently damaged the spinal cord during an operation on the cervical vertebra which has caused paralysis of all four extremities. The identity of this lady can be obtained by interview of Dr. Mary Boylan (Chief of Surgery, St. Luke’s Hospital, at time of this injury), or from Dr. James Callahan who consulted on this case.
In 41 years of hospital practice, 32 years of involvement in the St. Louis County Medical Examiner system, and in performing over 5,000 autopsies, I had not previously known of serious injury to vital, previously intact organs that were not part of the intended operative field or involved by a disease process.
I believe investigation is necessary to determine if Dr. Konasiewicz is incompetent or reckless.
Based on hospital corridor conversations by physicians, it is likely that these three cases are the tip of an iceberg. I am able to identify for you a number of physicians who have treated operative complications following surgery by Dr. Konasiewicz and who should be able to evaluate his surgical judgment and technique.
Donald W. Kundel, M.D.
Deputy Medical Examiner of St. Louis County
cc: Thomas P. Uncini, M.D., Chief Medical Examiner
St. Louis County Attorney’s Office