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A federal whistleblowers case and a couple of legislative investigations are looking at the connection between Medtronic and the surgeons that uses their products for back surgeries. The question at the heart of each action is : Are surgeons being paid to use and recommend these products? Initial payment information suggests that this could be happening.

For the patient this could be extremely troubling. Having a surgery is very scary. To add to the decision the thought that the one you get advice from, may have a hidden financial incentive in what is done, begs the question : who can you trust?

Hopefully the investigations will get to the bottom of the issue. While many of the doctors named in the initial article did not comment, the comments from Medtronic representatives center on how important these doctors are in the development and use of the products. The Doctor’s lawyer has filed motions arguing that they have done nothing wrong and they are the top surgeons in the nation.

If nothing else this issue suggests that there should be more disclosure. That the patient should be aware of what, if any, interest the doctor has beyond the actual work. That in making the surgical decisions, people should be able to know who is being paid to promote a type of product. Finally, those involved should answer questions of what payments mean, to ensure that with these very important choices the patient can be confident that they are in good hands.

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