A new survey has uncovered a surprising fact regarding hip replacement and medical device industry: surgeons have no clue what the devices they implant cost. The survey, published this week in Health Affairs, interviewed hundreds of physicians and several medical residents located at seven major academic medical centers, requiring each of them to guess the average cost of a hip replacement device
Of the 503 physicians interviewed, only 21 percent of the group correctly estimated the price of a hip replacement device, with estimates ranging from 1.8 percent of the actual price to 24.6 times the actual price of the device. Medical residents guessed the correct estimate at only 17 percent of the time, reported the Washington Post.
Costs of devices do matter to patients. Doctors who unknowingly prescribe patients expensive devices, when an equally-viable, lower-cost alternative may be available, force those patients to incur costs that they otherwise could have avoided. The same can be said of the costs being pushed to Medicare.
“It’s interesting that pricing information regarding hip implants is relatively unknown by physicians,“ commented Daniel Nigh, a product liability and Smith and Nephew hip replacement lawyer who also handles cases in the DePuy and Stryker hip recall litigations. “We have already seen that major producers of hip devices have failed to inform physicians and patients of the risks associated with their products.”
The recent scrutiny against the hip replacement device industry has made it clear that there is, in fact, a vast amount of information regarding hip replacement devices that is not offered to hospitals and their surgeons. Metal-on-metal hip replacement devices were once marketed as safe, and have been implanted in thousands of patients.
However, over the past few years, several have been recalled for causing serious health complications in patients, including severe pain and cobalt and chromium hip poisoning, and several thousands of individuals have filed hip lawsuits against the hip replacement device manufacturers.