Doctors at Halifax Health accused of performing unnecessary surgeries

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - A woman told Channel 9 she'll never be the same following an unnecessary operation at Volusia County's largest hospital.

9 Investigates recently obtained new records that show multiple patients had surgeries they didn't need at Halifax hospital.

Halifax Health has tried to keep a study about three neurosurgeons under wraps for months because it's facing a billion-dollar lawsuit, but Channel 9's Lori Brown said she got her hands on some of the information in that study, which found one of the doctors performed unnecessary surgeries on nine out of 10 of his patients.

And that doctor is still working at the hospital today, Brown said.

Records show Eunice Murphy received a spinal fusion from Dr. Fredrico Vinas at Halifax Hospital and that the surgery left her worse off, making it hard for her to walk.

"From running around to not being able to walk," she said.

Murphy said she now believes she never even needed to go under the knife.

"I think it's the cruelest thing one human being can do to another," she said.

A doctor referred Murphy to Vinas because she had numbness in her hand, and he told her without the spinal fusion that she was "going to be a cripple," said Murphy.

Murphy's hand was still numb after the spinal fusion. She said she then found out all it took to make it better was an $18 hand brace.

"I didn't have a pain in my neck, and I didn't have a pain in my back. I just had two fingers that were numb," she said.

Murphy tried to get a copy of a study ordered by Halfax's compliance officer but the hospital refused, stating the information was exempt.

Channel 9's legal analyst disagrees, however.

"The right for the patient to receive this information doesn't get any stronger than in the state of Florida," said legal analyst Bill Sheaffer.

Court records obtained by Channel 9 show the study found three doctors had done unnecessary surgeries.

Halifax believes the study was biased so they hired an outside expert. A spokesperson told Channel 9 "the outside expert concluded all the surgeries in the report were appropriate."

But Murphy still believes she's suffering because of a surgery she did not need and she had only a few words for Vinas.

"I hate you. You've ruined my life," she said.

A judge ruled that the report is admissible as evidence in the billion-dollar whistleblower case.

The whistleblower was represented by attorney Marlan Wilbanks.

The government contends that Halifax did nothing to investigate the study's findings of unnecessary surgeries for two years.