Could You Be a Victim of an Unnecessary Surgery?
When we are sick, we visit health professionals, such as our local physician, or go to the hospital to be treated by doctors, nurses, and if it is called for, surgeons. We trust that their extensive training and knowledge will be used to give us the best care and treatment possible. Sometimes we literally place our lives in their skilled hands and believe they will make appropriate decisions regarding our well-being and health. However, what happens when our doctors are wrong, or if they recommend a course of action they shouldn’t?
It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million patients undergo unnecessary surgeries every year. According to a recent report by the Journal of the American Medical Association, at least 12,000 patients die in the United States each year from these unnecessary surgeries. Thousands more suffer from complications caused by such surgeries.
Why would a doctor proceed with a surgery that may be unnecessary? For a plethora of reasons, including: avoiding a potential medical malpractice suit; to make money from the procedure, follow-up care, and treatment; pressure from health insurance companies; pressure from hospital administrators; and more.
A study done in Colorado in the 1980s found that every time a health insurance company “squeezed” doctor’s incomes, there was a noticeable increase in the number of operations performed per patient, the complexity of services given to patients from doctors, and the number of lab tests ordered by doctors.
Coronary Bypass Surgery
An article that appeared in a 1985 issue of Health Letter, a publication of Public Citizen, noted that between 1971 and 1978, the rate of coronary bypass operations performed on men aged 65 and older rose by over 955 percent. There was also an increase in the bypass rate for younger people as well. In the 1980s, coronary bypass surgeries cost around $20,000; at that fee, for every 100 patients who underwent the operation, over $1.4 million would be spent on medical expenses.
Dr. Thomas Graboys, a doctor at Harvard Medical School at the time, conducted a study where he reviewed the medical records of 100 patients who were at a high risk for heart disease and were therefore candidates for coronary bypass surgery. Upon his own examination, he believed surgery for each patient was unnecessary. In his study, he discovered that of 76 patients who elected to forgo the operation, 75 were alive 18 months later. Of the remaining 24 patients who underwent the procedure, after 18 months, two had died. While these results are statistically extremely similar, it does show that coronary bypass surgery isn’t necessarily right for everyone.
The risks associated with coronary bypass surgery include: post-operative problems, such as stroke or infection; the risk of the procedure inducing a heart attack; or even the risk of death. There is also substantial risk for elderly patients who undergo the surgery.
The majority of patients don’t know that coronary bypass surgery isn’t a cure-all for coronary artery disease. During the operation, a graft is inserted to be used as a detour around a blocked artery. However, the graft can narrow over time, causing the patient a need to undergo a second surgery years later.
Just as it is with coronary bypass surgeries, there is also an awareness of the high rates of hysterectomy operations performed on women in the U.S. Per capita, American women undergo twice as many hysterectomies as women in Great Britain, and four times as many as Swedish women.
A study in 2005 by UCLA revealed that, unless a woman is at a high risk of ovarian cancer, removing a woman’s ovaries during a hysterectomy actually raises her health risks. According to Dr. Ernst Bartsich, a gynecological surgeon at Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York, of the 617,000 hysterectomies performed every year in the U.S., between 75 and 85 percent may be unnecessary.
While hysterectomy operations should be considered for uterine cancer, according to Dr. William Parker, a clinical professor of gynecology at UCLA and the author of the 2005 study, about 90 percent of hysterectomies are performed for non-cancer treatment reasons. Parker recommends those told a hysterectomy is a suggested course of action seek a second opinion.
Florida Unnecessary Surgery Claims
In addition to coronary bypass and hysterectomy surgeries, other surgical procedures have also come under fire for their high rate of surgery while there are other alternatives that may be just as affective. These operations include: lower-back surgery; heartburn surgery; episiotomies; angioplasties; and more.
Recently, MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) and MRMs (magnetic resonance mammography) have been accused of potentially causing thousands of women to undergo unnecessary surgery. One study found a 6 percent increase for mastectomies for those who had an MRI or MRM compared to women who did not. Doctors participating in the study believe the higher rates of breast cancer surgery may be because MRIs and MRMs are so technologically sophisticated they pick up harmless recurrences or tumor extensions whose removal will not change a patient’s prognosis.
It is a logical conclusion then that patients who are told they require a surgical operation may want to seek a second opinion from another physician before consenting to undergo an operation. Fewer fatalities could result as well as millions of dollars saved on healthcare costs.
At Farah & Farah, our Jacksonville unnecessary surgery lawyers are ready to speak with you if you have undergone an unnecessary surgery and have suffered complications as a result. If you wish to pursue a medical malpractice claim, call 855-797-9899 today for a confidential and free consultation.
Contact Our Jacksonville Unnecessary Surgery Attorneys Today
If you would like to speak with a member of our legal team, call or email Farah & Farah today. Visit our contact page to learn more about how we will handle your case.