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Are sales reps in the OR posing a danger to patients?

Doctors and health care systems often rely on the expertise of medical device sales representatives to help them understand the benefits of certain devices before making a purchase. However, many experts are cautioning that doctors may be relying on these sales reps too much.

In fact, something that many surgical patients may not be aware of is that sales reps are a frequent presence in operating rooms. This could interfere with the informed consent rights of patients.

Sales Reps Are Not Medical Experts

While sales reps need to understand the specifications and capabilities of the devices they are selling, in most cases, they have not received specialized medical training like going through medical school and a residency. As some past lawsuits have revealed, however, operating doctors have relied too much on a sales rep's expertise, to the detriment of patients.

For example, a 2006 lawsuit found that a doctor negligently used bone cement that a sales rep in the OR assured the doctor would be fine for sealing a hole in the patient's skull. Another lawsuit in 2003 found that doctors were removing a medical device using a method devised by a device manufacturer's sales reps. The method did not have FDA approval.

Learning On The Fly

According to a 2014 study, 88 percent of device reps said they had given instructions to operating doctors during surgery, and 37 percent described their involvement as "excessive."

As a patient, you deserve to have doctors operate on you who understand the devices they are using and are not learning how they work on the fly. Remember that as a patient, you have the right to advocate for yourself and ask questions about the procedure you will be undergoing. You can also ask for a second opinion.

If you have questions about your rights or you think your doctor's negligence led to a surgical error, we invite you to call our law firm today. Our lawyers can investigate your case to determine if medical malpractice occurred and help you determine the best way to proceed.

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