Sunday, October 09, 2011

Not all attention is good attention

St. Dominic and Jackson lawyer Whit Johnson appear on the front page of the weekend WSJ:
On April 7, a 48-year-old Baptist preacher named Gary Steve Moore had spinal-fusion surgery at St. Dominic Hospital here. Hours later, he was dead.

Mr. Moore had been suffering from a degenerating disk in his lower back. Two spine surgeons who later reviewed his medical records say his history of heart disease and bowel obstructions made him a poor candidate for a 360-degree spinal fusion, a complex operation that involved opening up both his abdomen and his back.

His neurosurgeon, Adam Lewis, felt that “surgery was indicated” given Mr. Moore’s worsening back pain and the fact that more conservative treatments he had tried, such as physical therapy, had provided no relief, says Dr. Lewis’s lawyer, Whit Johnson.

However, there was one element of the surgery that Dr. Lewis didn’t mention to the patient, according to his widow: The surgeon was part-owner of the company, Spinal USA, that makes the devices he implanted in Mr. Moore’s spine.

Dr. Lewis’s part-ownership of a medical-device company is far from unique in the world of back surgery. Rather than use spinal implants from third-party manufacturers, scores of surgeons have started their own device makers to churn out similar designs, putting themselves in a position to benefit financially from the hardware they insert into patients.
The article (subscriber-only) goes on to detail Spinal USA's effect on spinal implant surgery. Several quotes from Johnson, but nothing from the widow's lawyer, assuming she has one -- it makes me wonder whether he or she was an unnamed source for the article.

So many doctors cannot rest content making a good living from being doctors; they have to own their own MRI, or their own specialty clinic, or their own medical-device company.

... Kingfish has more quotes from the WSJ article.


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