WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) - A Target 12 investigation has prompted a second local patient to come forward with claims that part of a surgically implanted pain pump was left inside his body, despite his request to have "everything" removed.
Army veteran Pat Bowen, 54, of West Warwick lives with what he calls unrelenting pain from 18 years of being bounced around in a tank.
"You get twisted and turned around and thrown from one side to the other," Bowen said.
Bowen showed Target 12, X-rays of what he says remains implanted in his back and neck four years after he asked for it to be removed.
"And it rides over your rib cage. It's just a constant nag," he said.
His case was similar to claims by Pascoag's Diane Morrison who recently told Target 12 "a couple of inches of tube and a pain pump port" was left in her side after a 2007 operation to remove a pain pump that did not work properly to stop her chronic back pain.
Bowen showed Target 12 medical documents indicating a pain pump was implanted in 2001 with a "revision of spinal cord stimulator" in August 2005. Bowen's documents show his neurosurgeon for the 2005 operation was Doctor Gerhard Friehs who was working with the Neurosurgery Foundation in Providence. The Neurosurgery Foundation is affiliated with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
Like Morrison, Bowen claimed the device implanted and later adjusted by Doctor Friehs, never worked properly.
"I was fed up after about the fifth time of having it taken in and out. I told him (Dr. Friehs) I wanted to get it out. I had enough. I wanted to go back to the oral meds."
But Dr. Friehs left Rhode Island in March 2008, prompting the Neurosurgery Foundation to refer Bowen to another doctor as one document reads, "to have pump and spinal cord stimulator removed".
Bowen said he was very clear that he wanted everything out, but frustration hit after what would be the final pain pump operation. Bowen claims the x-ray shows what was left behind.
"Took out the pump, left the leads."
Bowen said he was told at the time the device was left in because it was implanted by a different doctor than the one who performed that final surgery. Bowen and Morrison said several surgeons told them they would not remove what another surgeon implanted.
Target 12 checked the Food and Drug Administration website and discovered the Medtronic Infusion pump implanted in Bowen was recalled in July of last year but Bowen says no one contacted him to let him know.
Target 12 called Dr. Friehs at his office in Texas but he was unavailable for comment and no one would comment from the Neurosurgery Foundation about specifics surrounding Bowen's claims.
"All we can say is when Dr. Friehs worked appointment to the Alpert Medical school," Darlene Trew Crist, Brown University's Director of News and Communications said. "From March 1995 to March 31, 2008."
Right now, there are no outstanding complaints filed with the Department of Health against either Doctor Friehs or the Neurosurgery Foundation.
Copyright WPRI 12
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