International patients have no legal protection in Germany when complications arise.

Patients having complications are on their own once they leave Germany. And doctors know this fact well. Post op support is nonexistent. The same doctor that was readily available for the initial assessment and very quick diagnostic, is then nowhere to be found or too busy to answer calls, return messages or reply to emails. All this happened to me with Dr. Thomas Bierstedt from ONZ SPINE in Germany.

24 thoughts on “International patients have no legal protection in Germany when complications arise.

  1. I’m really sorry you had such a bad outcome. I found your site b/c I too had a negative result after getting ADR by Dr Illherhaus at ONZ August 2020. There is almost nowhere to let the public know about bad outcomes, so it’s nice you took this initiative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I Am sorry you had a negative experience too. Unfortunately there is no legal protection for international patients. I will continue denouncing them. Dr. Biertedt caused me irreversible damage and I am still dealing with the consequences of his botched surgery. I am having another abdominal repair in a few days due to the mishandling on his anterior approach.

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      1. My condition was severely altered facet at one of the two levels. Increased instability and bony defects. Four previous surgeries. I had lumbar pain and radiating pain to leg. What went wrong? Dr. Bierstedt over distracted the vertebrae to force in the wrong size and angle artificial discs and caused irreversible damage to nerves. Discs failed. I have now an scoliosis I didn’t have before. They refused to do proper standard of care when I voiced the issues I was having and dismissed me. The condition of my lumbar spine was bad enough to determine I was not a good candidate for ADR and still he did it. After that failure I needed two revisions and multiple hernia repairs as they damaged my abdominal wall during the anterior approach surgery. I have one more surgery soon. I am worst than before i went to ONZ for surgery. They are a fraud and with their hack surgery procedures they have injured many patients now. It is not just me. I don’t understand how they are still operating and recruiting potential patients. It seems their propaganda is still working efficiently in Canada. Please do your research and ask for second opinions. They ruined my life and they did it without any care and knowing international patients with surgery complications are not able to sue them. In my opinion they are criminals and a fraud.

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    2. Hi Diana,
      I am considering surgery there. What spinal condition did you have prior to surgery? What did surgery did they perform? What is your condition now?

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  2. My brother and I both had surgery with Dr. Bierstedt. He seemed gentle and kind. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t try to help you. This part just doesn’t make sense to me. ONZ had a USA patient returned for a revision in the week before me. I was sorry to read your story.

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    1. It doesn’t make sense to me either. They just said “it is normal “ “you are safe”. It wasn’t normal and I wasn’t safe. They put the wrong Artificial disc and that caused me irreversible damage. Then they just ignored my requests for support post-op and didn’t offer any solution at all. They were very gentle and kind of course and also very quick to respond when they were courting me as a potential patient. There are many other patients recently that have been injured by them. I am glad you and your brother had good outcomes. It happens. Every case is different. But leaving a patient on his own while having serious complications is utterly unethical and negligent. I am in worse condition than before going to them for surgery.

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    2. Hello George,
      I am seriously considering Transforminal Lumbar Interbody fusion (TLIF) anterior using ROI-A cage with posterior pedicabs for added stability. Perhaps more distraction required than your surgery as my L5 is 10mm slippage over S1.. I’m concerned that ADRNot4All may be accurately describing the outcomes of more complex surgeries, requiring distraction to align vertebrae as will mine.
      What is your overall impression of your experience with Dr Brierstadt? Was he truly compassionate, capable and honest?
      Perhaps an unfair question to ask but I’m desperately in pain and need surgery and
      am feeling less confident when reading about ADRNot4All’s outcome.
      Please respond, just looking for another viewpoint.

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      1. Lynn, hello. I certainly wish you a good outcome in your spine issue. I know the message was not addressed to me but it certainly calls my attention because what you are asking, I didn’t find or saw at all. Bierstedt was not compassionate at all in my case. He was never available to respond to my emails and calls regardless how critical for me were my expectations when I was experiencing such an excruciating pain and limitations. Capable? He was not capable at all when he put a wrong size, angularity, wrong placement and wrong medical device in my spine. Again capable? When he Severely damaged my abdominal wall to gain access to the lumbar díscs. I needed three abdominal surgeries to try to repair the damage he caused and now I have a deformity on my abdomen. He over distracted, causing severe nerve damage. Honest? Not at all. He lied to me ( using another person to respond. He felt so beneath him to address directly a former patient) when I asked why he did the ADR if I had severe increased instability and altered facets. He said my facets were intact. When I sent the images again for him to see, he wrote “they were intact enough” for the surgery. He was with me an arrogant individual who never showed his face and never addressed my serious concerns. Instead he put somebody else to threaten me and to insult my situation. That person is Malte Petersen. Another arrogant individual who should not be put in charge to deal with patients experiencing complications.

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      2. Hello, I would not recommend ONZ to anybody. In 2020, I had a lumbar spine with Dr Bierstedt for an L4-S1 fusion. 3 weeks later he performed a 4 level cervical disk replacement. My lumbar pain got worse after the surgery and kept deteriorating. They kept insisting that all my scans were okay and that I should live in pain for the rest of my life. In March 2022, I had an extensive revision surgery in Cyprus where they had to remove all the implants that Dr Bierstedt had put as the screws were loose and the fusion never healed. He had left bone graft on my nerve. The lumbar got damaged above the initial levels and I had to fuse my entire lumbar spine from L1 to S1. My cervical surgery with them has also failed and I may need a revision surgery. I had a friend who also got operated by Dr Bierstedt who developed complications and never got any pain relief. He had to have a revision surgery in India.

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  3. You hit the nail on the head when you said that post-op support is non-existent. It is so true that ONZ, the surgeons and Malte Peterson are ready available and quick to respond for initial assessment and plan of action (proposed surgery), but once they have your money and the surgery is done, you are on your own. That can be said for not just our return home to Canada but while in the hospital for recovery while still there. We expected to be well taken care of after our surgery and there in fact was no standard of care. My husband had many complications after surgery and we felt totally abandoned there and here now that we’re home. Although from what we know so far, the surgery was a success (it may be too soon to tell, nothing else about the process including after care and follow-up were acceptable. I wrote a letter to Malte Peterson advising him of all the issues and never heard back from him. When I followed up with him, I got an email that said that yes they understood my husband went through rough times after a very invasive reconstructive surgery and that was it. There seems to be no accountability on their part and it seems that it’s all about the money and they don’t really care about their patients. Rehabilitation was a total waste of time and I believe it actually set my husband back. You can’t use a cookie cutter approach when it comes to these things as every circumstance and patient are different. My husband had an L1 to L5 fusion and they expected him to be in rehabilitation 11 days later. He was weak, exhausted and in severe pain and that only made things worse. We were there with other Canadian patients who share the same views as we do. They have had complications since the surgery and have been offered no support even when they’ve asked for it. I could go on and on, but I agree that people need to be well informed before they spend the money and put their fate in the hands of ONZ.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Shelly,
      First of all I wish your husband a great recovery and healing. Now on the ONZ issues, the number of patients having complications has increased over the years. Unfortunately not everybody reports them, for many particular reasons. I don’t understand how their lack of a standard of care has not caught the attention of regulatory agencies and government. Just that empowers them to continue profiting from the pain of others that went to them looking for a solution to spine problems. ONZ continues to heavily market their production line surgeries in Canada and therefore they continue to irreversible damage patient lives. Malte Peterson is an arrogant and unprincipled individual who doesn’t care at all about patient outcomes. For them at ONZ, we the patients are just a mean for them to profit from. The quick answers and prompt action happens only when they are “assessing” the patient. Post-op they will find any possible excuse to be unavailable or to demean and diminish genuine concerns patients have when experiencing complications. The German government and the European Union regulatory agencies don’t care either about patient outcomes as they are doing nothing to investigate the genuine complaints. It seems a complicit and irresponsible attitude. They should by law and decency act on behalf of injured patients. They should investigate and stop those hack surgeons caring only for money and ruining patient’s lives.

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      1. Hello ADRNot4All.
        I am considering surgery at ONZ for DDD and spondylolisthesis stage 2. I am at this point completely neutral in my search for patient information. My question is, you state that the incidences of complications has increased over the years but also state that not all patients report them. I am wondering how you got that information if not all patients are reporting complications.
        Since reading your remarks on ONZ I have need to do more research. If the complication rate is increasing, is it because the surgery numbers are also increasing but the complication percentage is the same or lower or higher?

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      2. Hello, many patients have contacted me personally and a few have posted comments here and other websites. Ironically I don’t need more evidence. My limitations,the complications, the multiple surgeries six in total after the wrongful ADR and one more coming in three weeks are for me more than enough to prove they were wrong. They were wrong not only on the lack of support and post op care, they were wrong on doing an ADR on my spine that had severe changes and increased instability. All, for the sake of money. Everybody is free of choosing them of course and from my heart I wish you the best, but there are many other options available, without the questionable and proven track record of wrongdoings and lack of standard of care. I wish you all the best.

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      3. Hello ADRNot4All,
        Thanks for responding. I’ve been reading blogs and looking for the other options you may be referring to. I live in Canada and options are limited. Surgeries are delayed, techniques are old and come with little or no guarantees for outcome.
        It pains me to know that you are still having surgeries to correct your ONZ surgery.
        Like you, I was looking to ONZ for the successful surgery that would give me my life back.
        Can you point me in the direction of the other options you refer to?

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      4. Thank you and once again, I agree with you 100 percent on everything you’ve said. Wishing you the very best as well. I would really like to get the word out there to the masses, just not sure how I would go about doing that.

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  4. Hello ADRNot4All:

    I am looking for patients that have had surgery by Dr. Bierstadt using minimally invasive anterior approach, ROI-A cage and posterior screws and rods for Spondylolisthesis stage 2. I am curious about the distraction pain post surgery and the impact on the spinal column above over the next 5 years or so.
    Any patients reporting info regarding that surgery?

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  5. Hello, I live in Kenya. My WhatsApp number is +254 733 718620

    Are you sure that we cannot take legal action against ONZ and spine connection?

    I am told that I must get a lawyer in Germany for this which is challenging. They are specialised lawyers in the UK who handle spine negligence cases on a no win no fees basis but they were reluctant to assist as the surgery was performed in Germany.

    We need to make sure that other patients don’t suffer. I have an above knee amputation and have really struggled since the ONZ Surgery. Luckily I found a very good surgeon at the American hospital in Cyprus who has sorted out most of my pain but the damage done will affect the rest of my life.

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    1. Hello. It can be done only in Germany. Legal system in Germany works different. It is not a contingency retainer. You have to pay the lawyer a retainer and a mutually agreed fee. The cost for me of having Bierstedt as surgeon has been devastating. I lost career and I was unable to return to work. I had six surgeries since the gross failure and going for a seventh one in a few days. He also destroyed my abdominal wall. Caused irreversible nerve damage. They know how difficult is for an international patient to actually sue them and therefore they don’t care. Also EU authorities and medical regulatory agencies don’t do anything to stop them. They don’t only have medical licenses… it seems they have licenses to harm and maim patients and go unpunished. ONZ is the worst. They certainly ruined my life.

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  6. Hi, so other than ONZ what are the other options when you are looking for surgery? I live in the UK and am willing to travel to have disc replacement or fusion. I have sent my details to ONZ for assessment.

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    1. Hello, Michael. If your surgical treatment is a fusion I believe you don’t need to travel to Germany for that. Unfortunately not everybody is a candidate for disc replacement. There are some cases where ethical doctors must refuse to perform an ADR. There are also hybrids which involve a fusion and a disc replacement to protect the adjacent level. Please be careful when choosing your surgeon and facility if you are going to Germany and particularly to ONZ. Don’t leave the initial call or interview still having doubts. Ask for a second opinion if you feel comfortable contacting other doctors in the area. Patient and device selection are very important. Ask them about surgery complications and how they approach and treat those cases and who is responsible financially when this happens. I know a case where they were at fault and they charged the patient for the revision. I wish you all the best in your case.

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