A former employee of a competitor to Medtronic filed a lawsuit that has been unsealed, revealing accusations of a bribery scheme perpetuated by the Ireland-based medical device corporation. According to the lawsuit, members of a Kansas VA hospital were allegedly bribed to purchase additional, unnecessary products that were then used on patients. 

The whistleblower, Tom Schroeder, worked as the area vice president for the medical device company Becton Dickinson. In 2017, Schroeder filed a lawsuit (United States ex rel. Schroeder v. Medtronic, Inc.) that outlined the alleged improper conduct on Medtronic’s part. The lawsuit was unsealed after the U.S. government decided not to intervene.

According to the suit, sales representatives from Medtronic “bribed hospital staff to purchase its devices over those of competitors and to purchase grossly excessive inventory.” These allegations began with rumors at the Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas that alleged that VA staff members were being bribed to purchase unnecessary amounts of inventory for medically unnecessary procedures performed on veterans. 

The procedures were intended to treat peripheral artery disease, a condition that occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries and impedes blood from flowing to the legs. Atherectomy devices are used in conjunction with balloons to remove buildup, clear blockages, and restore blood flow to the affected area. According to Schroeder, he was motivated to file suit due to the potential harm that could befall veterans with the improper use of these devices. 

Unsealed text messages from the lawsuit show that in 2017, a Medtronic sales representative was present in an operating room as doctors treated a veteran patient for peripheral artery disease. During the operation, the Medtronic sales representative texted a moment-to-moment record of what devices were being placed in the veteran’s body. 

Medical experts consulted by CNBC said that a normal amount of devices used in the treatment of peripheral artery disease is one or two. In the instance described by the lawsuit, 17 devices were inserted into the patient. In response to hearing the amount of devices implanted by the doctor, the Medtronic colleague texted the sales representative “U are going to want to start going to the VA all the time,” the colleague texted in response to hearing that many devices had been used. 

As the case moves forward, Medtronic may be required to change its business practices similarly to how opioid representatives were forced to change their practices in the aftermath of the opioid epidemic. 

If you have been harmed by a medical device, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact MedTruth today for a free consultation and begin your journey to justice.