In modern medicine, surgery is so commonplace that we sometimes fail to consider just how incredible of an achievement it is. Much like space flight, it is one of those things that boggle the mind when one stops to consider what exactly is happening, yet happens with such frequency that we rarely bat an eye when it happens without issue.
However, for the patient on the operating table, they must trust that the team of medical professionals to whom they have entrusted their life is among the best at what they do. Few ever stop to consider the possibility that non-medically credentialled personnel may also be present for the procedure. And in the worst of cases, that presence is causing serious medical injuries.
There is growing concern about the level of access that medical device salespeople have to the doctors and patients to whom they are peddling their wares, even including the presence of salespeople in the nation’s operating rooms during surgical procedures. The practice is at the center of thousands of lawsuits, up to and including whistleblower lawsuits where the person bringing the lawsuit witnessed an act so egregious that they felt obligated to bring it to the attention of the legal system.
Sales representatives have been found to have brought the wrong device or implant for a patient’s surgery, as well as providing inaccurate information to surgeons and other medical professionals about the devices they are selling.
Both doctors and medical device manufacturers have touted the importance of having sales representatives in the operating room during surgery as a way of providing important information to the surgeon about the devices being used. As quoted by one surgeon in an article posted to KHN.org, it is “unusually burdensome and difficult” for a surgeon to keep apprised of “all of the intricate details and nuances” of the devices they use.
When your life hangs in the balance, knowing that reaching a comprehensive level of understanding of the device being used in your procedure is “burdensome” to your surgeon may be less than comforting.