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Partner with Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp Personal Injury Law Firm

One of the things that come with aging is the increase in the aches and pains we deal with. With all the advanced techniques and medical devices, many patients have found solutions to those aches and pains by undergoing ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, and back surgeries. As the number of those procedures has spiked over the past few years, studies show that some of these are unnecessary surgeries and downright dangerous for the patient. Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of an unnecessary procedure should contact a Virginia Beach malpractice lawyer for legal assistance.

Spinal surgery, in particular, has become so routine for patients that business is booming for orthopedic surgeons and the hospitals where they perform those surgeries. 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 within the next 10 years.

Multiple Study Results

Studies show that the average age when patients begin reporting back pain and looking for relief is around 42. 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 to weld the patient’s vertebrae together after the removal of one or more damaged spinal discs. A medical device is usually used to stabilize this procedure, often in the form of a metal “cage.”

While spinal fusion surgery can be helpful for patients who have arthritis and other congenital conditions or who have experienced some kind of traumatic injury, the concern is that the procedure is recommended too much and even when it is unnecessary, including for conditions where there are questions about its effectiveness.  Some studies have compared back pain resolution following spinal surgery compared to no surgery, and the studies do not show that surgeries are the resounding best option.  The upshot is this: there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

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 of 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 orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons received payments from medical device manufacturers. Between 2014 and 2017, orthopedic surgeons, in particular, received 35 percent of payments from the top 10 medical device manufacturing companies, totaling almost $830 million.

Unnecessary Procedures

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 that of past generations. These critics question whether the average cost of spinal fusion surgery – averaging $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.

Back pain is a common ailment that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. For some individuals, the prospect of finding relief from chronic back pain leads them to consider surgical options. However, there are unfortunate cases where unnecessary back surgeries are performed, causing physical, emotional, and financial harm to patients. In such instances, individuals may pursue medical malpractice lawsuits to hold responsible parties accountable and seek compensation for their suffering.

Unnecessary back surgery occurs when a surgical procedure is performed on a patient without a legitimate medical indication or without exhausting less invasive treatment options. These surgeries may range from spinal fusions to discectomies and laminectomies. Common scenarios where unnecessary back surgeries may occur include:

  • Misdiagnosis – When a patient’s back pain is misdiagnosed, leading to an operation that does not address the underlying issue.
  • Failure to exhaust conservative treatments – Physicians may recommend surgery without attempting less invasive treatments first, such as physical therapy, pain management, or medication.
  • Inadequate informed consent – Patients are entitled to a thorough understanding of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to a recommended procedure. In cases of inadequate informed consent, patients may undergo surgery without fully grasping the consequences.
  • Pressure for profit – Some surgeons or medical facilities prioritize financial gain over patient welfare, potentially pushing individuals into surgeries they do not need.

Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm for Legal Assistance

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 unnecessary surgery or a surgical error on the part of medical personnel, contact a skilled Virginia medical malpractice 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, including a $675,000 malpractice settlement for one client who suffered permanent complications as a result of a hysterectomy that was determined by our medical experts to be an unnecessary surgery.

Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp today to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help.



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