Laser surgery on the spine is a high-tech gimmick that at best produces results no better than traditional back surgery techniques. At worst, the laser spine surgery centers that are cropping up around the country have a business model that is an incubator for medical malpractice and harm to patients.
Why? Because most of these spine surgery centers make the surgeons part owners of the facility. And that gives the doctor a gigantic conflict of interest:
- First, to do more surgery and more elaborate surgery than patients might need.
- Second, to get the patient out the door after surgery as soon as possible to enhance profits.
Most of these facilities don’t even have the licensing to allow them to keep patients overnight. Considering how spine surgery is fraught with danger of complications in the tender post-operative period (such as spinal hematoma and cauda equina syndrome), patients are well advised to steer clear of these centers.
The centers that have these safety-unfriendly business models include Laser Spine Institute, with centers in Philadelphia, Tampa, Scottsdale and Oklahoma City, plus the Bonati Institute in Hudson, Florida and North American Spine of Dallas.
Patients get sucked in by the promise of minimally invasive surgery with tiny cuts using laparoscopic techniques – itself a malpractice issue when the surgeon lacks experience – with glowing testimonials on these centers’ web sites.
Read more at Patrick Malone’s Patient Safety Blog here.
The problem of conflicts of interest in same day surgery exists wherever surgeons are part owners of the facility.
This is yet another area of medicine where it pays for patients to be skeptical and to get second and third opinions. It fits our natural instincts to think that bigger and more elaborate surgeries have a higher likelihood of success, but the human body proves over and over that it prefers minimal interventions.
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