FINANCIAL KICKBACKS AND DOCTORS
Years ago my firm handled multiple medical negligence cases against a local spine surgeon who operated on dozens of patients within a very short time of his arrival in our community. The patients all had various degree of low back pain and, invariably, the doctor would perform a surgery where lumbar discs were “fused” together with pedicle screws and rods….a big and scary operation! Many of those patients had more pain after the surgery than before.
I often wondered why this surgeon, relatively new to our community, was performing so many back operations and using all of this medical hardware.
An article appearing in today’s edition of Newsday.com (October 9) may provide some answers. It appears that certain manufacturers of medical devices are paying doctors financial incentives to use their products. The article states that Senate lawmakers are pressuring Medtronic (an international medical products manufacturer) to disclose more about its consulting arrangements with physicians, citing prior allegations the company paid kickbacks to surgeons to boost sales of spinal implants. In separate letters issued Tuesday, Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Herb Kohl, D-Wis., asked the company to provide details about physicians who receive company payments for consulting services. The two lawmakers have repeatedly criticized the influence pharmaceutical and medical device companies hold over physicians.
Go get ’em Senators Grassley and Kohl!