Sales Reps in the Operating Room?

docs.jpgThere has been much investigation into the influence pharmaceutical companies and their sales reps have with doctors and the care doctors provide patients. Now, medical device manufacturers and their sales reps are under similar scrutiny.

It appears that surgeons are increasingly inviting medical device sales reps with no formal medical training into their operating rooms to help during procedures.

Medical Device Sales Reps Helping with Surgical Implants

Georgetown University Medical Center researchers report a growing relationship between surgeons and those who sell medical devices, such as artificial knees and hips. According to the research, which used interviews with small sample sizes of surgeons and current and former sales people, medical device sales reps are routinely relied upon for technical help in the OR and are now “an integral part of operating room personnel.”

The sales reps in the survey said they participated in one surgery a day on average. They made sure that all required instruments for the implants were on hand, as well as provided trouble-shooting advice to surgeons when needed.

Questions about Quality of Patient Care

No definitive link has been established between having the sales reps assist in surgery and an increase in serious surgical mistakes, but it does raise important questions about patient care.

How much sway do medical device manufacturers hold with surgeons? Are manufacturers rushing to market questionable but more expensive medical devices to capitalize on these relationships?

And what does this say about surgeons’ skill with implanting certain medical devices? Should hospitals insist on more training of surgical professionals and less reliance on medical device representatives?

No surgery is ever really routine. Life threatening complications can go appear quickly. Avoidable errors may be made or compounded when you have outside, non-medical staff in the operating room.

Patients have the right to know upfront who will be helping with their surgeries, as well as how experienced their surgeon is with a given procedure. If a grave mistake is made during surgery, the hospital and the healthcare providers may not be forthcoming with answers following the procedure.

If you lost a family member or you were seriously injured due to an error during surgery, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to conduct an in-depth investigation on your behalf.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.