Don’t read this if you’re having hip surgery soon.

This is a complex story about hip replacement, surgeons who receive money from manufacturers of hip replacement hardware, and a patient who got caught in the middle.

from New Hips Gone Awry Expose U.S. Kickbacks in Doctors’ Conflicts from Bloomberg.com

A stabbing pain in the hip forced Mark Hirschbeck to abandon his post at third base during an April 2003 game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies.

He was 42, among the best umpires in professional baseball and unwilling to quit a job that paid more than $350,000 a year. Dr. John Keggi offered a hip replacement that could get him back on the field by 2004, Hirschbeck says. That didn’t happen. The ceramic joint made by Wright Medical Group Inc.shattered, leading to an infection and four more surgeries that left Hirschbeck permanently sidelined.

He later learned that Wright paid tens of thousands of dollars to a foundation Keggi helps run and gave him a trip to a conference in the Bahamas. Keggi recommended the ceramic device over the kinds of implants used in 97 percent of cases….

….The government declared last year that it had overhauled the financial relationships between surgeons and the biggest makers of knees and hips, saying the threat of criminal prosecution for “kickbacks” had forced them to slash payments to physicians. Results of the crackdown were “truly extraordinary,” said Christopher Christie, a former U.S. attorney for New Jersey who is now governor, in testimony to Congress in June 2009.

It was too good to be true. Compensation ended up being higher after the September 2007 deferred prosecution agreement because payments were postponed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and interviews with seven surgeons….

much more at Bloomberg.com

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