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Surgery: Do You Really Need It?

Trust. It is at the center of your relationship with so many people that you interact with everyday. A relationship based on trust is perhaps most evident when it comes to medical care. Nothing is more important that your health, and with the complexities of modern medicine, patients are often at the whim of their medical caregivers. While patients can ask questions about their options, in the vast majority of situations, patients simply do whatever their doctor tells them is necessary.

After all, you are visiting the doctor because they have supposedly spent years learning and training in order to provide the very specialized advice and care that you need. But mistakes happen all the time. Sometimes the errors are unintentional, at other times they are influenced by a doctor (or facility’s) desire to increase profits. In all cases, those unreasonable mistakes are unacceptable and patients deserve compensation when harmed.

Unnecessary Care
One of the most common types of medical errors refer to situations where doctors fail to act when necessary–like in many missed diagnosis cases. But the opposite also occurs–when doctors perform procedures that are entirely unnecessary.

Recently, USA Today published a somewhat shocking story on the largely ignored problem of thousands and thousands of surgeries performed every year which patients do not actually need.

The story mentions the case of one doctor, now in jail, who was convicted of performing a steady stream of unnecessary heart procedures in order to make more money. It is impossible to fully calculate the cost of the harm. The article shares the example of one 22-year old athlete who was gearing up to become a professional baseball player. The young man had a fainting spell and went to the doctor for advice. The doctor said that if he did not have a pacemaker installed, then he would be unlikely to live to age 30. The surgery was performed, even though it meant the end of the man’s baseball dreams.

It wasn’t until later that the the man discovered the doctor’s legal trouble regarding unnecessary surgeries. Several other doctors ultimately reviewed the his records and indicated that he needed blood pressure medication–not a pacemaker.

But it was too late. The harm was done. The man, now 34-years old has a pacemaker that is shut off in his chest.

Widespread Problem
Considering the consequences in each case, it is perhaps shocking that there are actually thousands of unnecessary operations each year. The USA Today study of countless public records found that anywhere from ten to twenty percent of surgeries may not be necessary.

All of those cases do not involve doctors intentionally misleading patients in order to make profits. Instead, many of the errors are simply caused by negligence and inexperience which prevents from fully exploring non-surgical options.

The researchers found that unnecessary operations can strike in many areas. The most common procedures done without need affect the heart: stents, angioplasties, and pacemakers. Beyond that, excessive operations can affect knee replacements and hysterectomies, among other areas.

The Chicago med mal lawyers at our firm are available for assistance any time that your receive inadequate care by a medical professional.

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