One of the things that come with aging is the increase in the number of aches and pains we deal with. With all the advanced techniques and devices in medicine, many patients have found solutions to those aches and pains by undergoing ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, and back surgeries. As the number of those surgeries has spiked over the past few years, studies show that many of these procedures may be unnecessary and downright dangerous for the patient.
Spinal surgery in particular has become so routine for patients that business is booming for both orthopedic surgeons and the hospitals they conduct those surgeries at. According to one report, the sales of spinal surgery instruments, implants, medications, and other treatments for chronic back pain are astronomical, currently at $10 billion per year but expected to almost double that within the next 10 years.
Spike in Procedures
Studies show that the average age when patients begin reporting back pain and looking for relief is around the age of 42 years. But more and more patients are being told that relief will only come through spinal fusion surgery. This procedure involves decompression, where the patient’s back is opened and bone that is pinching nerves is cut out, as well as spinal fusion, where the surgeon uses a bone graft in order to weld the patient’s vertebrae together. There is also usually a medical device used for stabilizing in this procedure.
While the spinal fusion surgery can be helpful for patients who suffer from arthritis and other congenital conditions or who have experienced some kind of traumatic injury, the concern is that the procedure is being recommended too much and even when it is unnecessary, including being recommended by doctors for conditions where there are questions about its effectiveness.
In many cases, the patient ends up worse off following the surgery than they were before because the solid bone fusion the surgeon creates lacks flexibility and movement. One major investigation raises questions about the questionable involvement by the medical device industry in promoting spinal fusion surgeries by citing the following statistics:
- Between 2014 and 2017, the implantable medical device market’s worth reached more than $211 billion.
- Approximately 70 percent of all orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons received payments from medical device manufacturers. Orthopedic surgeons in particular received 35 percent of payments from the top 10 medical device manufacturing companies between 2014 to 2017, totaling almost $830 million.
It has been pointed out by medical critics of the alarming rise in the number of these procedures that the human spine of a 50- or 60-year-old is not much different than of past generations. These critics question whether the average cost of spinal fusion surgery – averaging at $110,000 – has anything to do with the sudden recommendation for so many patients that could find relief for their back pain using other methods that are not so invasive and so dangerous.
Have You Been a Victim of a Surgical Error?
Every surgery has some kind of risk involved, but a surgery that is not necessary to begin with can result in serious injury to the patient.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of a surgical error on the part of medical personnel, contact a skilled Virginia surgical error attorney to discuss what legal options you may have against those parties who are responsible for those injuries. Our legal team has successfully represented many clients who have suffered as a result of medical negligence.
Our Virginia wrongful death attorneys have also aggressively advocated for families whose loved ones died as a result of medical malpractice in obtaining the financial damages they deserved for the losses they suffered.
Call Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn today to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help.
An experienced personal injury attorney with dual licensure in Virginia and North Carolina, Eric Washburn received a B.B.A. in Finance from James Madison University—initially worked in the information technology field before obtaining his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Once an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Danville, Va., Eric has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a “Rising Star” Super Lawyer in Virginia since 2014.