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Understanding Unnecessary Surgery

Written by Berkowitz

Surgeons in the ORSurgeries, like all medical procedures, carry a host of risks. While a patient may accept those risks, they do not accept surgical errors. Though not all mistakes in healthcare are preventable, a large majority of those mistakes that occur during surgery are.

Unnecessary surgery has been the main object of speculation and accusation over the past few years. There have been numerous articles and publications regarding claims of unnecessary surgery. A recent article published by USA Today stated that unnecessary surgeries are on the rise, but that the reason behind these unnecessary procedures is not greed; instead, it is a lack of training in less-invasive methods – or outright incompetence by the physician. It is true that there are some surgeons that will perform surgery simply to increase their profit, but this is not the main cause for unnecessary surgeries.

Common Surgeries That Are Unnecessary

Patients should get a second opinion any time a non-emergency surgery is proposed by a physician. This can ease any concerns regarding unnecessary procedures and can ensure all non-invasive alternatives have been explored. There are also specific surgeries that are reported to be performed more often than necessary, including:

  1. Stents and Cardiac Angioplasty – This highly invasive procedure inflates a thin balloon placed in a narrowed artery, crushing plaque deposits. A stent – a wire mesh tube – is left in the artery to keep it open. A study in 2011 found that 12% of these procedures were not medically necessary.
  2. Pacemakers – Cardiac pacemakers are used to correct irregular heartbeats. Research, however, shows that 22% of these pacemaker implantations are unnecessary.
  3. Spinal Fusion Surgery – Individuals suffering from lower back pain may see multiple specialists that will all recommend spinal fusion back surgery. According to a medical review, more than 17% of patients that were told they needed this costly, invasive procedure had no abnormal neurological or radiographic findings – meaning they did not require surgery for their lower back pain.
  4. Cesarean Section – Also commonly referred to as a C-section, this procedure is often used in pregnancies that are low-risk. According to the World Health Organization, a country should not have a cesarean section rate greater than 10 to 15 percent; yet, the United States has a rate of almost 32% – the highest ever reported.

Consult Berkowitz and Hanna LLC – Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Unnecessary surgery is serious, and can cost a patient thousands in deductibles and recovery costs. When these surgeries are unnecessary and cause the patient unnecessary harm or injury, physicians must be held accountable. Berkowitz and Hanna LLC can assist you with your medical malpractice claim. Contact our attorneys online or call us to request a consultation.