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The Hidden Problem of Unnecessary Surgeries

Written by Berkowitz

Unnecessary SurgeryWith regard to medical malpractice, establishing a breach of the applicable “standard of care” is critical to winning a settlement or verdict at trial. The “standard of care” refers to a physician’s legal responsibility to provide appropriate and professional medical care.

One way that physicians breach this responsibility is by performing unnecessary surgeries that put their patients at risk for dangerous – and in some cases life-threatening – complications.

Statistics reveal that approximately 10-20 percent of surgeries are not necessary. In a congressional report released in 1974, roughly 2.4 million unnecessary surgeries resulted in an estimated 12,000 fatalities, and patient safety advocates claim very little has changed since then. If you have undergone an unnecessary surgical procedure or if you have lost a loved one as a result of unnecessary surgery, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.

The Six Most Common Unnecessary Surgical Procedures

The following are six of the most common surgical procedures performed without medical necessity:

  • Cardiac Angioplasty (also known as Stents): This procedure uses a thin balloon to open arteries that are narrowed by plaque. A life-saving technique for patients experiencing heart attacks, it is not recommended in non-emergency situations. Yet studies reveal that, of all non-emergency surgeries examined, 12 percent were medically unnecessary.
  • Spinal Fusions: Performed to treat back pain, spinal fusion surgeries have a reputation as being extremely lucrative for surgeons. However, they have a small success rate of only 25 percent. Statistics show that approximately 17 percent of patients who were told a spinal fusion was necessary displayed no medical evidence that the surgery was actually prudent.
  • Arthroscopic Knee Surgery: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that this incredibly popular surgery had the same outcome as placebo surgeries. Physical therapy and education on alternative treatment have proven as effective as – and less expensive than – arthroscopic knee surgery.
  • Hysterectomy: The removal of the uterus can have a life-altering effect on a woman, as her whole endocrine system shifts. It has been cited that hysterectomy surgeries are unnecessary for up to an astounding 70 percent of patients. There are a plethora of cases claiming perfectly viable ovaries were removed without patient consent.
  • Cesarean Sections: This type of childbirth has become immensely popular, in large part due to the convenience for both doctors and parents. Yet it is still an invasive surgery with possibilities for dangerous complications. While the World Health Organization claims a country’s cesarean rate should not rise above 15 percent, the United State’s rate holds steady at 32 percent.
  • Cardiac pacemakers: While any kind of surgery poses potential hazards, heart surgeries are exceptionally risky. The implantation of cardiac pacemakers is arguably at the top of the list of the most common unnecessary surgeries. A study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 22.5 percent of cardioverter-defibrillator implantations lacked the medical evidence needed to justify the risky procedure.

Berkowitz and Hanna LLC – Advocating for Clients throughout Connecticut

Even necessary surgery can be an intimidating and overwhelming event in a patient’s life. Finding out that the surgery and any subsequent injury were unnecessary can be especially traumatic. At Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, our legal team understands the financial and emotional stress that can result from this kind of medical malpractice.

If you believe that you or a loved one may be suffering as a result of an unnecessary surgical procedure, we are here to discuss the details of your case. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today for a free consultation.

We have a long history of serving clients throughout Connecticut, including in Brookfield, New Milford, and Norwalk.