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Suit accuses doctor of spinal cord injury

The woman has "permanent neurological damage," the suit says.

A 34-year-old woman has filed suit against a Pasco anesthesiologist alleging that the doctor injured her spinal cord during a routine pain management procedure.

Laura Foltz, in a lawsuit filed Friday in Pasco Circuit Court, said the injury caused her to stop breathing and has left her with "permanent neurological damage."

The lawsuit, which seeks damages, says that Dr. Guillermo Suarez did not adequately monitor Foltz's condition during the outpatient procedure. It also says that the Central Medical Clinic did not have basic life-saving equipment to treat Foltz when she stopped breathing.

Foltz went to see Suarez at the New Port Richey clinic on Nov. 1, 1999, to receive anesthesia-based therapy _ injections targeted at nerve roots _ for chronic neck pain. According to the lawsuit, Suarez conducted the procedure without the aid of a fluoroscope, a device that provides an enhanced image of the area being treated. Foltz also was not hooked up to an electrocardiogram or a pulse monitor, the lawsuit says.

At some point during the procedure, according to the lawsuit, Foltz stopped breathing, but the six-page complaint does not say what happened next. Nor does it describe the nature of the injury to Foltz's spinal cord, except to say she has suffered "disability, disfigurement, mental anguish" and has lost the ability to earn money and enjoy life.

Neither Foltz nor her attorney, Scott Borders of Tampa, could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Suarez, in a brief interview Wednesday, told the Times that he had done nothing wrong.

"I don't think she's injured," he said.