Spine Surgery Greed

Already controversial, yet continually growing more common, instrumented spinal fusion surgery took a public relations hit in an article in today’s Wall Street Journal. “Top Spine Surgeons Reap Royalites, Medicare Bounty” is an excellent, if not disheartening piece of investigative health journalism.

This piece is a must read for anyone involved in the care of patients with back pain, anyone with back pain, and hopefully, anyone involved in health policy that can help. Senator Grassley, You read this, right?

“One surgeon at a hospital in the Midwest disclosed receiving between $400,000 and $1.3 million in royalty, consulting and other payments from three spine-device makers. Using the Medicare-claims database, the Journal found this surgeon performed 276 spinal fusions on Medicare patients in 2008, by far the most of any surgeon in the country.”