July 11, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

A new way patients may get money back from stem cell clinics

patients get money back
Can patients get money back from stem cell clinics? Image of movie prop money labeled for reuse by Google on the web.

Let’s face it, there are loads of stem cell clinics looking for patients/customers. I think most are taking advantage of patients and some of these are just rotten.

Admittedly there are hundreds of clinics that aren’t that bad. They also might be FDA compliant. However, they still are selling stem cells that aren’t really proven to work or be 100% safe. That’s still a problem in my view.

So what’s a really unhappy patient/customer to do after the fact?

What if you either had a bad outcome and/or you feel like you got ripped off?

Maybe it turns out you went to one of the worst of the worst clinics, something you only realized after the fact.

From what patients tell me, it can feel like there’s nothing that can be done. However, actually there are many things you try. In fact, I have a whole page of relatively simple ways to take potentially positive actions including reporting bad clinics to your state medical board.

While some of the stem cells or claims about them out there aren’t real, the money you lost was, right?

So more practically speaking, what about getting your money back?

No, the clinics won’t happily refund your money.

But an amazingly simple idea someone suggested to me is to take the clinics or their operators to small claims court. For a good fraction of patients the amount they lost at a stem cell clinic makes them eligible for a small claims court suit.

I bet that in many cases the clinics won’t even show up and you’ll win by default. If they do show up, they’ll have some explaining to do to the small claims court judge. My impression is that these judges don’t like BS. They’ll perhaps be sympathetic to people who lost their money on unproven stem cells. If you bring documentation of over-the-top claims by clinics that could help.

The bottom line is that it’s reasonably possible that quite a few patients will win these suits and get at least some money back.

The cases can also literally only take minutes in court. In many states the clinic or its operator won’t be allowed to have a lawyer with them to fight the case in court. That should make it less intimidating.

While it seems like more patients are suing clinics for damages due to alleged or even documented bad outcomes, those suits are fairly complicated affairs. The small claims court route may just be the ticket for certain patients who want their money back from clinics, but with relatively little court drama.

This summary of small claims court here in California sure makes it seem like a reasonable route for patients who are unhappy with clinics. While rules vary by state, here in California if you win you can collect up to $10,000 back from a clinic. Coincidentally this just about what most people pay for a stem cell “treatment”.

If the clinic uses a supplier of allogeneic perinatal “stem cells”, you might even be able to sue the supplier in small claims court. Again, I bet most of the time they won’t even show up so you’ll win. Same goes for chiropractors who facilitated you getting an injection by a physician.

Of course, even though an attorney is not allowed in small claims court in many states, you still definitely want to chat with one at least briefly before filing your case. My sense is that probably this small claims route is only appropriate in cases where something went concretely wrong or there was documented hype by the unproven clinic or supplier in terms of the claims made.

Disclaimer: this post is not legal advice. I’m not an attorney. Talk to your attorney!

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