Orthopedic Exceptionalism

Written By: Drue De Angelis

Why Ortho is Unique Among Medical Devices and Why Outsiders Struggle to Grasp it.

Despite the reality that surgeons are losing their autonomy and decision-making power in hospitals, there are fundamentals in orthopedics that make it unique among medical devices. One might say “Orthopedics are Exceptional.” Sadly, too many boards of directors don’t fully appreciate this when making their executive selection only to find that the start up struggles or worse, fails.  All too often, leaders from different surgical specialties underestimate the gaps between other devices and orthopedics. They default to their own experience and successes and believe that by introducing these to an orthopedic company, they will enlighten these “knuckle-draggers,” bringing them into a more refined and efficient system or process. There is a fatal flaw in their reasoning which is the purpose of this post. 

 Breaking it down to is simplest form, it can be adequately explained by this one statement, “In general, the Orthopedic Patient rarely dies as a complication of surgery.” Apart from the extreme trauma cases, the vast majority of surgeries are elective and conducted on healthy people. Their reason for surgery is typically motivated by pain or immobility. Neither of these are what we might consider “life-threatening” diseases. Even if you live with terrible pain and immobility, you are much more likely to die from something else. If you are new to orthopedics, this small distinction carries significant nuances and if you are not careful, profound consequences.



Drue is Managing Partner for The De Angelis Group.

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