St. Jude accused in failed lead placement surgery that paralyzed a patient

September 2, 2011 by MassDevice staff

St. Jude Medical is accused of providing neuromodulation leads to two surgeons who allegedly botched a lead implant surgery, leaving a Santa Fe woman with lower body paralysis.

St.Jude Penta lead

St. Jude's Penta lead

St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE:STJ) found itself in the middle of a lawsuit over a botched neurostimulator lead surgery that resulted in lower body paralysis for a patient in Santa Fe.

Deirdre Murphy filed charges against the medical device goliath, her two surgeons and Slaughter's Land of Enchantment Spine Surgery, Pace's Interventional Pain Specialists of New Mexico and Presbyterian Healthcare Services of Albuquerque for botching the spinal lead placement procedures.

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Murphy claims St. Jude failed to do a proper background check on surgeons Douglas Slaughter and Charles Pace, neither of whom had performed a paddle lead procedure prior or received any training from the company, before selling them its Penta paddle lead, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

The leads are used to provide electrical impulses near the spine to mask or interrupt pain signals.

During the operation Slaughter "attempted to place the lead through the right hand side; however the lead was too wide," according to the complaint. He "opened more space to the spinal canal, by removing more bone and ligaments, to make room for the large Penta lead." 

"Murphy is now permanently paralyzed and is learning to live as a paraplegic," according to the court filing.