Before MM goes any further, today is Mother's Day, and those of us at TSB want to wish every mother a happy and healthy MD, and no that acronym does not mean a Doctorate in Medicine. On April 26th, TSB posted a blog entitled, "Is There Anything That Money Can't Buy in Spine." In addition, to that post, many of you have read our opinion on the commercialization of the spine industry. A few years ago we even suggested that rather than publish spine surgeons commercial interest in the back of the annual NASS booklet, by law NASS should have them wear golf shirts with company logos and baseball hats as they walk around the show. But back to the editorial. Upon finishing Professor Michael Sandel's book, "What Money Can't Buy, The Moral Limits of Markets," ironically our mailbox had received another e-mail from ISASS, aka The International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. The e-mail was an invitation from Heather Howard on behalf of Chairman Larry Khoo and James Yue the Co-Chairs of this ISASS program. The faculty is the Who's Who that have been as responsible for the commercialization of medicine as have their mentors, and many of you know who they are. But today's editorial is not about any of these individuals. It really is about the concerns that are raised when you receive an invitation at the cost of participating at $30,000 per station. Obviously the going rate in today's market.
Now before anyone goes on a rant, TSB knows that no one gets to play in ISASS' (love that acronym) sandbox without paying an admission fee, but $30,000? Obviously this course is being held in the City of Lost Wages, Nevada on July 21-22, 2012 (I'll give ISASS a plug for free, unlike their good friends at OTW). It's all about critical mass Drs. Khoo and Yue, and based on our number we're definitely giving you visibility. But TSB must wonder, if surgeons haven't gone too far in the commercializing medicine? Don't believe TSB, why is ISASS offering to promote the participating companies on their website and generating e-blasts as part of the admission fee? Does anyone believe that the advertisement of your participation as a company is going to attract some fledgling spine surgeon to attend the "OCCTTLSTL" Hip Hop Surgeon Training in the middle of the summer no less, in the adult playground capital of the world? Do any of these surgeons really care as long as you're dropping your 30 grand on the table? So here's what you get for your fee;
1 Lab Station:
1 Cadaver: All you need is a torso with head
1 Set of General Instrument: Most companies can supply these tools that will attend
Battle Gear: Scrubs, Masks, Caps, Shoe Covers, Gloves (How expensive is that?)
But here's the kicker, a disclaimer states that the $30,000 does not include the honoraria or the consulting payments to the lab faculty, and that participating companies may choose to provide consulting payments to chosen faculty according to "their" normal policy. Does that mean the surgeons normal policy, or the company's? You have to love medicine, especially if you think that we haven't commercialized it to the extent that an organization like ISASS promotes the education of their members or peers, you as a company get to pay an admission fee to promote some screws, wires, and that some of the surgeon participants may even have a vested interest in a company and potentially they are using this forum to further commercialize a venture that they may have a capital investment in. Can you hear disclaimer?
Ironically, at the bottom of ISASS e-mails is a famous quote from Albert Einstein, it states, "a person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new." What it really should have said is, "a person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new, but it's much easier when you use someone else's money." Maybe what TSB should do is end his blog posts with our favorite Einsteinism: "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." So in closing TSB will leave you with the legal definition of insanity;
"mental illness of such severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot control one's behavior due to a psychosis, is subject to uncontrolled behavior." Market Economy? No Way! Market Society! Everything is for sale. TSB must ask one question: how much is ISASS laying out for this meeting, and don't come back crying talking about the cost of promotional marketing.
TSB would like to wish all of our readers a Happy Mother's Day. PS: I'll see you at the turn in Pauite, we're outta here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!