Study: before you have surgery, make sure that it is needed

On behalf of William Dean

A new study highlights to prevalence of unnecessary surgeries performed in the United State each year.

When you visit your physician, you rely on his or her expertise and training to recommend procedures that are necessary to address your medical complaints. This is especially true when surgical procedures, many of which carry significant risk, are being considered. Unfortunately, your medical provider cannot always be trusted to recommend only the procedures you need, according to a recent report from USA Today. The report found that many thousands of people each year are encouraged to have surgeries that they do not need.

The report, which was compiled after a review of government records and the National Practitioner Data Bank, found that unnecessary surgeries comprised up to 20 percent of operations for some specialties. According to the report, patients are pushed into unnecessary surgeries for two main reasons. The first reason is financial gain by fraud. Many unnecessary surgical procedures are the result of medical providers attempting to defraud insurance companies or the government for procedures that are not warranted. For example, the U.S. Justice Department recently joined a lawsuit against a Florida cardiologist who allegedly performed and billed Medicare and Medicaid for procedures that were medically unjustified.

The report found that the second reason why unnecessary surgeries occur is because the patient is a victim of medical malpractice. In such instances, the patient's physician lacks the training or competence to correctly determine when a surgical procedure should be avoided-either because there are safer and more effective non-surgical alternatives, or the patient's medical condition does not justify surgical intervention.

According to the report's findings, more than 1,000 doctors across the nation have paid settlements to victims, due to allegations of unnecessary surgical procedures since 2005. However, the number of victims is much higher. It is estimated that tens of thousands of patients each year are talked into having surgeries that are not needed.

Speak to an attorney

Although unnecessary surgeries plague virtually every type of surgery, studies and federal data found that patients undergoing these procedures are most likely to be victims: cardiac stents or angioplasty, back surgery, hysterectomies, knee or hip replacements, cesarean sections, and pacemaker implants. To protect themselves, patients are advised to investigate less invasive or non-surgical alternatives before having any surgical procedures, getting a second opinion if necessary.

Unjustified surgeries unnecessarily expose patients to the risks inherent with every surgical procedure, such as blood clots, infections and pain, not to mention the possibility of surgical errors and death. Under the law, victims of unneeded surgical procedures may have a claim for financial compensation.

If you have been harmed by a surgical procedure that you suspect was unneeded, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Ford, Dean & Rotundo, P.A. are experienced in this and other forms of medical malpractice and can investigate the circumstances surrounding the surgery. If it is determined that the surgery was medically unjustified, they can work on your behalf to obtain the maximum amount of compensation due to you under the law.