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A surgeon reportedly used some patients as “guinea pigs”

About a hundred patients are said to have been used as “guinea pigs” in France by a surgeon at Gap hospital for a new illegal technique that can lead to complications in the nerves and arteries and even death, RTL reports. An investigation has been opened for “deliberate serious misconduct” and “endangering the lives of others”.

Doctor Gilles N., a surgeon at Gap hospital, is accused of having used a surgical technique that has not been validated in France on around 100 patients, RTL reports.

This accusation was made by his colleague Dr. Raouf Hammami, 52, head of the orthopedic and trauma surgery department at the same hospital, who reproaches him for “playing the sorcerer’s apprentice with a hundred or so patients suffering from back problems”.

According to Dr. Hammami, referring to a study carried out between 2015 and 2017 by this fellow surgeon, a spine specialist, 87 patients were victims of his new illegal method, called disc cementoplasty.

“In France, cement (actually a kind of resin) can be injected into weakened vertebrae to strengthen them. But Dr. N. injected this cement directly into the discs of the spine. There can be cement leaks and complications in the nerves and arteries. With a vital risk in case of hemorrhage,” explains Dr. Hammami.

The results of an expertise

After being informed of this, the Regional Health Agency (ARS) requested an expert opinion from two Nancy medical professors who confirmed that “Doctor N. used a technique that did not conform to the data of surgical science at the time of the events”.

According to them, Doctor N. should have “sought the opinion of an ethics committee or a committee for the protection of persons” and explained to patients “the so-called “innovative” aspect of the technique” before using it.

The French Society of Spinal Surgery also drew the conclusion that “in the current state of knowledge, the technique of disc cementoplasty should be considered as not validated in France”.

Following the investigation opened for “deliberate serious misconduct” and “endangering the lives of others”, the public prosecutor in Gap (Hautes-Alpes) has just referred the matter to the Central Office for Combating Environmental and Public Health Damage (OCLAESP).

“They want to shut me up”

“My client considers that the technique of disc cementoplasty was not innovative, that it was used by other colleagues, especially abroad, but also presented in medical congresses”, explains Dr. N’s lawyer on the radio.

However, unlike Dr. N., who continues to exercise his functions, it is Dr. Hammami, who is suspended. “They want to silence me, to eliminate me, because this case is likely to splash a lot of people. But I will go all the way,” he explains on the radio.

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