New Report Warns of Risks of Medical Procedures That Are Not Medically Justified
Most Americans seek medical treatment from qualified physicians, surgeons and other medical professionals expecting that they will honor the well regarded maxim of medical ethics “to do no harm.” Unfortunately, a recent article in USA Today provides a chilling account of the enormous number of life-altering but unnecessary medical procedures performed by medical professionals each year. The article indicates that as many as 10-20 percent of operations performed by surgeons in some areas of medical specialty may be unnecessary. The article also indicates that the high rate of medically unnecessary procedures performed by medical professionals means that tens of thousands of people undergo the risks associated with surgery annually despite any legitimate medical justification.
The most chilling aspect of the article is that it points out that the vast majority of these unnecessary procedures are not performed because of an erroneous diagnosis or medical negligence but because of a conscious decision by the medical professional to defraud public and private health insurance companies. Unnecessary surgeries often could be avoided with less invasive non-surgical treatments, or they are simply not warranted by the medical facts according to the report. The article indicates that an extensive review of data from academic sources and the government reveals that the most frequently performed unnecessary procedures involve knee replacements, pacemaker implants, cardiac-related stents, angioplasty, caesarean sections and hysterectomies.
One high profile and tragic example provides a clear illustration of the risk to patients posed by attempts to bilk health insurance companies by billing for unnecessary medical procedures. Jonathon Stelly was a promising semi-pro baseball player when he sought medical attention from a cardiologist, Mehmood Patel, for fainting spells. Stelly was informed that he would not live past age thirty unless he underwent surgery to have a pacemaker implanted according to the news article.
Although Stelly had spent his entire life dreaming of playing baseball in the major leagues, he trusted the doctor and agreed to the procedure, which ensured that he would no longer be able to play professional baseball. When Stelly later read that Patel was being investigated for performing unnecessary surgeries, he sought opinions from a number of other doctors who all concurred he needed only blood pressure medicine not a pacemaker according to the new story. Tragically, Stelly had given up his lifelong dream when he could simply have taken medication and continued playing professional baseball.
The Stelly story is not an isolated incident as the USA Today investigation discovered as many as a 1,000 health care professionals have settled medical malpractice claims involving unnecessary or inappropriate surgical procedures since 2005. Many of these claims went beyond taking away the victim’s career with almost half the cases involving severe injury or even wrongful death. The article also points out that this probably only constitutes a small number of those who are the victims of unnecessary medical procedures.
If you have been injured during a medical or surgical procedure that was unnecessary, you may have a right to recover financial compensation for your injuries. The mere performance of a surgery that is not necessary or medically appropriate may create a basis for liability for the pain and suffering, physically invasive procedure and emotional anxiety suffered regardless of the outcome of the procedure.
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If you or a loved one is injured or dies because of a surgical error, ommission or medical procedure, our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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