No medical professional can honestly claim that any medical procedure or treatment is completely risk free. In fact, patients throughout the state of New York often agree to undergo surgery with the understanding that complications can occur. That is not to say, however, that medical professionals should not be held fully accountable for incidents of preventable medical errors. Now that recent figures shed light on complication rates relating to one particular medical procedure, concerns over physician training and oversight are being raised by many in the medical community.
Spinal stimulator implants are increasingly being used to treat patients with chronic back pain, and it is now estimated that up to 50,000 patients receive the implant every year in America. The implants generate pulses of electricity that are believed to mask pain signals sent from the spine to the brain. Currently, there are several leading spinal simulator manufacturers and the price of the implant can range from $20,000-$60,000.
According to a study conducted by one manufacturer, the implants were considerably more effective in substantially reducing pain in patients over a set period of time as compared to conventional treatment methods. The same study also noted, however, that complications related to the implants resulted in almost 25 percent of patients requiring further surgery.
The FDA reports that there were 58 cases of paralysis resulting from spinal stimulator implants last year alone, compounding concerns over physician and medical errors that may be contributing to complication rates. Some medical experts believe that a lack of medical oversight, in addition to poor training guidelines and standards, is contributing to incidents of paralysis. Similarly, some medical professionals are suggesting that many physicians that currently perform the implant procedure are not properly suited to do so.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “When Spine Implants Cause Paralysis, Who Is to Blame?,” Joseph Walker, April 15, 2014